Hallmark’s A World Record Christmas is one of the most beautifully wholesome Christmas movies to air in ages. It’s thoughtfully written and full of the kind of honest performances that will genuinely leave a mark. In every way where it matters, it’s the film people will need during the holiday season, full of the representation that’s all too rare in this industry.
Starring Nikki Deloach, Aias Dalman, Lucas Bryant, Daphne Hoskins, Beverley Elliott, April Telek, Alison Wandzura, and more, A World Record Christmas centers around Charlie (Dalman), an autistic boy who dreams of breaking a world record in order to see his biological father return. Hallmark Movies and Mysteries take on heavy themes frequently, but they don’t always stick the landing, making them feel too syrupy instead of organic at times. However, Mark Hefti and Antonio Cupo nail every beat of this narrative, allowing it to stand out as a gorgeous exhibition of acceptance wrapped up in the foundation of family’s love.
A large part of the reason Hallmark’s A World Record Christmas works is entirely because of the performances. It’s a blessing we’re past the days of actors portraying marginalized people whose experiences they could never even begin to fathom. And thereby, having an autistic actor in the role of an autistic character is a big step in the right direction. Aias Dalman is so remarkably charming in the film that his transparency and heart reverberate off the screen. There’s a tremendous amount of adoration in this movie, even where young love and first heartbreaks are concerned.
It’s what the holidays are all about—we might not all celebrate similarly, but the universal language we all share is love and acceptance. It’s our sole job as human beings to love people no matter what they accomplish or don’t. In his attempts to gain his biological father’s attention, Charlie’s character journey allows him to understand that his mother’s husband, Eric (Bryant), has been his true father all along. He’s never needed to or should’ve tried to get someone’s attention because the right people show it regardless of accomplishments. There’s something to be said about the themes of adoption within the film as well and how hard it can be to potentially blame yourself for someone else’s choice to walk away. What Charlie experiences is something many, many kids face when there’s an absentee parent, bringing far more trauma into their lives than necessary. Further, Eric’s choice to continually understand where Charlie is coming from and his patience are a sincere showcase of how parents should be when their constant efforts aren’t always noticed.
Additionally, Hallmark’s A World Record Christmas doesn’t tackle romance in the traditional format, and yet it features one of the most memorable couples in a long, long time. By thrusting viewers into an already established relationship, the writing had to rely on telling us about all the initial beats we missed. And as the best romances manage to convey, we get it all—a look back at their first meeting, why they fell in love, and, most importantly, why they continue to choose each other every day. It helps that Deloach and Bryant have excellent chemistry because the relationship development we get is a bonus to an already heartfelt film.
It’s also a treat to see couples who aren’t in their early 20s because TV, film, and even books still think that somehow anyone over thirty or forty is ancient. It’s an odd, grossly ageist point-of-view in Hollywood. Still, the relationship between Eric and Marissa is gorgeous at all times for many reasons, but because of the mature beats of communication we get. This is also something that Hollywood tends to opt of showcasing, ending the film or the TV show right at the happy ending but never delivering on the moments where couples navigate through life together. As parents, as a team, and as friends, it’s consistently delightful to watch them stand as an example of what love and parenthood should look like.
Hallmark’s A World Record Christmas is an earnest spectacle that underscores what it means to show up for people. It doesn’t give its characters everything on a silver platter, but instead, it authentically exhibits why second chances matter in every area. Charlie doesn’t break the Jenga stacking world record for the Guinness World Records because he’s sadly (and understandably) too focused on when his biological father is going to show up, but he does manage it for himself and all his loved ones when he realizes that his real father has been by his side all along. And goodness, it results in a scene with so much snot-filled crying (on my part).
Ultimately, the film isn’t trying to be something extraordinary, yet that’s precisely what makes it such a treasure. The representation is beautiful, and it should signal to network executives that inclusion shouldn’t be such a rarity in productions—it should be a constant. To have this much heart in something matters tremendously, even during overly cheesy moments like allowing a tree to choose its home. (And you know what? I adored that moment, too. Genuinely.) It’s a winning movie because of its characters, the performances, the narrative, and every little moment in between.
A World Record Christmas is now streaming on Frndly TV.