Hallmark’s Christmas Class Reunion is…something, to say the least. I spent more time cringing at the overt obsession with high school than anything else, and at the same time, I found it impossible not to care about these characters. I wanted to see where their stories would go, which I suppose is an accomplishment in and of itself.
The thing about High School reunions is that TV shows make it a bigger deal than it is. And I get the nostalgia, but goodness, I’ve not spoken to a single person who’s ever cared so intensely about wanting to go back, class presidents included. It doesn’t matter if you still live in the same town you went to high school in or far away. No one cares this much. Plus, a fun fact about me, I did care while I was there, so much so that my best friend and I (who’s still my best friend, by the way) made the senior slideshow. But when the time came for our reunion, eh? Quite frankly, I don’t want to see my high school crush because 18-year-old me did not have great taste.
Aimee Teegarden was in my favorite holiday film last year (My Christmas Family Tree), showcasing her chops in a way that made me cry, but the writing in Christmas Class Reunion doesn’t give enough room to work with. Still, Hallmark’s trend this year with STEM heroines is a detail I’ll happily devour. (See also: Inventing The Christmas Prince.) Further, if nothing else, when there aren’t conversations about the reunion, Teegarden’s Elle is a lovely character on our screens.
She’s driven, successful, and kind, which is a rarity in such cases because when it comes to TV depictions of reunions, characters like Elle come into the picture as snarky, mean girls. They’re written as people who believe they’re above their peers, and it turns out to be some sort of a redemption story. There’s no need for redemption here, and there’s no real bad guy either, which is another admirable decision Hallmark has been making in their films this year.
More often than not, when there’s a case of single mothers or fathers, we’ve had the other parent be the bad guy. The negligent parent who’s trying to make everyone’s life difficult. But this year, single fathers talk about their co-parents with admiration. It happens in A Kismet Christmas, and it happens here in A Christmas Class Reunion. Skyler’s (Yasmeen Kelders) mother is still in the picture, and there are no hard feelings between her and Devin (Tanner Novlan). Normalizing conversations like this instead of vilifying female characters will always add browny points to any film.
But there’s also something about how Devin, the class clown, is written that makes the film worth every minute. More people in high school don’t care about what they’re doing than people who do. It’s more common for career paths to change and evolve than for people to stay the same. In high school, I thought I would go into law, but today, I’m a journalist. Seeing Devin take over his family business and take everything more seriously was a fascinating spin on the idea that no one should make assumptions about how people in high school will turn out to be.
In films like this, you hope that characters have evolved and grown for the better, and that’s what we get with Devin. For the most part, he’s the character who feels most relatable because he’s not stuck living in the past, trying to prove things to people who don’t matter. And look, I get it; as millennials, we watched the rise of social media take place in a way no other generation could understand. Our fears are almost inherently immovable when it comes to thinking that we have something to prove because our entire lives are on display for people to see. But minus the razor flip phone, which I’d like to know how he still managed to keep, Devin’s character is a breath of fresh air.
And so much of the reason why Christmas Class Reunion works is that it authenticates the fact that change is a good thing. If Elle ended up with her high school crush, Kam (Marshall Williams), I might’ve thrown my remote at the TV. In most cases, there’s often a big, huge reason why that might’ve never worked out in the first place.
But before we jump into Elle and Devin as a couple, we need to talk about the story that’s told between high school sweethearts Katie (Maya Ford) and Jay (Dejan Loyola). While the two are inseparable on school grounds, ten years into marriage and working together proves to be more challenging than they thought.
And it’s a good thing the two find their way back to each other because it’d otherwise be devastating to see it end; Christmas Class Reunion should’ve given us a bit more time to see their lives unfold. They’re two of the most fascinating characters in the film, and while this was primarily an ensemble story, seeing more of them would’ve made it all better.
Finally, the progression of Elle and Devin working together seamlessly when that was never the case in high school is where the story stands out. People change and grow; sometimes, the best surprises are what you never expected. This detail makes the film so fun, even while you can’t precisely relate to what the characters are dealing with. Believing a whole class was cursed because they had a string of bad luck? Christmas Class Reunion could have benefited more if it leaned fully into campy teenage drama and ran with it.
But that overly cheesy moment when she announced to the whole class that there was someone she still needed to dance with and he should report to the gymnasium immediately? 10/10. That’s my favorite part of the entire thing and their engagement announcement that started with discussing his biggest contractual obligation to date: hot, smooth, and a great way to lean into big news. I’ll take it.
- The whole thing about her company falling apart and then not really following up with that? We could’ve just skipped the whole thing. Really, we could have. Did her assistant lose her job? Where is she now? We should’ve gotten information about this
- Okay, but I’ll always take the class clown over the do-gooder. What did he even do? I still don’t get it.
- I wanted more of Samantha (Stephanie Bennett) and her life.
- Are Bryce and James also engaged?
- Also, those stray decorations were gorgeous. Why wouldn’t people want them?
- That scene with Devin and Elle falling on the couch? Aces.
- Still thinking about how this dude had a freaking flip phone.
- Did he move to California? Are they both in Connecticut? We have more questions than answers.
- Why would people ever assume teachers’ lounges were fancy? Have they never watched TV?
- A+ first kiss for Devin and Elle. Good stuff.