Hallmark’s A Holiday Spectacular captures the magic of Christmas by allowing its viewers to see the sides we don’t experience often. Where most films see heroes and heroines leaving the big city for a small town, our leads follow their dreams to New York City here. The lives they were supposed to settle with are replaced with big dreams, chasing the entertainment industry to the stages where they can capture the moments of beauty that make them better and more nuanced as people.
A lovely cast featuring Ginna Claire Mason, Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Sara Gallo, Derek Klena, Larissa Schmitz, and more lead Hallmark’s A Holiday Spectacular to the kind of showstopping conclusion that deserves to be made into a TV series. The film captures the magic of Christmas by bringing female friendships front and center in a way the network has yet to do. This movie breaks the cliche molds and adds a plethora of depth by highlighting the importance of following one’s dreams and what it means to uncover a found family.
For starters, Ginna Claire Mason’s Maggie is an incredible heroine. She’s a lot like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Midge in the sense that despite societal expectations of the time, she’s carving her own path. However, unlike Midge, Maggie’s family is far more stuck up, pompous, and entirely closed-minded to the idea of their daughter doing anything other than being a perfect housewife. And thus, in her profound desire to audition for the Radio City Rockettes, Maggie lies to her parents and fiancé, leaving it all behind for a short while to do this one last thing before she settles down.
But settling down isn’t an easy feat, nor should it be. This film makes a clear statement that no one deserves a life they don’t wholeheartedly want. After Maggie meets the other girls, shares the stage with them, and spends days getting to know Navy photographer John (Klena), she realizes that this is the life she wants to live. And it’s the life she deserves to live, except her parents aren’t going to warm up to the idea anytime soon. While the entirety of Maggie’s arc is pretty fantastic, it was hard to believe that her mother would come around as quickly as she did. Still, it was remarkable to see and understand that someone in her family is entirely on her side. It was also refreshing to see her fiancé support her decision to call off the wedding and do so kindly.
Maggie’s arc is a brilliant reminder that when a woman has the agency to choose her path, she will be a better, happier version of herself. It’s a showcase that dreams, no matter how big or small, deserve to be chased, and with a supportive corner on a person’s side, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. It was also relatively delightful to watch Maggie humble herself despite coming from money. She didn’t want people to look at her differently because she wanted to fit in amongst women fighting for their dreams without the unfair luxury of buying their way into places. This arc also allows us to see that classism can be a mold that’s broken simply by the decision to look at all human beings as equals despite the kind of life they lead.
Further, A Holiday Spectacular allows its heroine to not only follow her dreams but to find love in the process with a kindred spirit. Maggie and John’s relationship contrasted greatly with what we saw with her fiancé. Where Maxwell barely knew who Maggie was, in a few short days, John knew all the little things about her she was bursting to share. And while the third-act breakup felt unnecessary in the film, making it a colossal flaw, I understood its necessity.
Maggie and John are presented to the audience as two people desperately wanting to follow their creative dreams. In their means of connecting, they also find ways to ignite their creative sparks further, allowing themselves to find the necessary balance between work and play. It was lovely to see John’s photography shape the way Maggie saw herself, and it was sweet to see how her encouragement provided him the strength necessary to open up to his parents about going to school instead of taking on the family business.
Whether it was slow dancing in the snow, stealing glances, or fortifying their friendship, everything we saw with the two of them felt right. Theirs is a romance worth investing in as the kind that makes them better individually and more potent as a pair.
At its crux, A Holiday Spectacular is about found families and sisterhood. The film highlights the importance of girls looking out for each other and how there’s a glowing strength in numbers. The Radio City Rockettes shine together—they dance, beam, and exude all their exquisite energy as a team, and it’s only fitting that they’re the same off-stage. We get a brilliant reflection of the idea that there is strength in their bond from the moment Sofia (Gallo) and Maggie meet, and we see it continually grow through Alice (Hobbs) and, finally, Janet (Schmitz).
It’s hard to trust people and open up, especially when you’re fighting through grief at the same time. As we learn early on, Sofia lost the one with whom she shared the dream of becoming a Rockette—her twin sister. And while no one could replace her, Sofia gains an extended family through her friends, allowing their love for one another to heal the dark parts of her heart that might never see the light. The film ensures viewers know this notion of sisterhood as its most important story by ceaselessly showing us moments where the girls put each other first.
A Holiday Spectacular is, first and foremost, a story about what it means for women to follow their dreams and release the expectations others have of them. It’s a story told in flashbacks that solidify the fact that these experiences could allow people to continuously shape the lives of those who come after them. (An older Maggie, played exceptionally by Ann-Margret sharing her experiences with her granddaughter made the film’s message more worthwhile and lasting.)
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This story is about women looking out for each other, uplifting, and loving one another so fiercely there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other, even when they’re pushed away. It isn’t easy to find lasting friendships, but when people show their true colors as brightly as the women in this film, we’re in the right to believe them. Thus, in the end, their love for each other is how they continue to win, living their best lives side by side in perfect synchronicity.