Where to stream it? Services that include Hallmark Channel such as Peacock (check out all your options here)
Starring: Jonathan Bennett, George Krissa, Chelsea Hobbs
Directed by: Ali Liebert
Intro: The Holiday Sitter Review
After two years of releasing movies with gay supporting characters (2020’s The Christmas House and it’s 2021 sequel), Hallmark Channel has finally released its first holiday rom-com with a leading same-sex couple. Mean Girls’ Jonathan Bennett, who also starred in The Christmas House films, cements his status as the Gay King of Christmas in this year’s The Holiday Sitter.
It’s a bold move for Hallmark, considering Hallmark Media’s tepid relationship with the LGBTQ community. In 2019, Hallmark refused to air an ad with a lesbian couple from wedding company Zola after pressure from anti-LGBTQ groups, a decision they later reversed.
Controversies aside, The Holiday Sitter is a quaint holiday film that’s just as charming, if not also as corny, as any other made-for-tv Christmas movie.
How the Guncle Saved Christmas
Our story features Sam (played by Jonathan Bennett) as a workaholic businessman from Manhattan- a familiar archetype for all the Hallmarkies out there. When he’s not constantly talking to his clients (that include a famous duchess, apparently), he’s planning a trip to spend Christmas in Hawaii by himself.
This doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary for his family who all seem to live in separate places and do their own thing. Sam’s mother, for example, is off somewhere in Italy and never appears on screen.
But when Sam’s sister (Chelsea Hobbs) and brother-in-law learn that the baby they’re adopting is coming sooner than expected, they decide to recruit Sam to watch their other two children until Christmas. When the holiday comes they'll return home and he'll go off on his tropical getaway.
He now must babysit two high-maintenance children, even though he seems to lack the necessary skillset. The last time he watched them, for example, he accidentally started a fire while cooking.
After feeling overwhelmed by his niece’s demand for a vegan breakfast, he recruits the handsome, single neighbor Jason (George Krissa) for help. They develop a bond along the way.
Jonathan Bennett gives a sincere performance as a goofball uncle who is overwhelmed by the antics involved with taking care of children. Mean Girls fans will appreciate a certain nod to the movie he’s most famous for and, like always, his hair looks sexy pushed back.
It’s nice to see a Hallmark Channel movie embrace a more inclusive story, even if that comes with all the familiar tropes we’ve seen at least ten thousand times. The soundtrack is filled with generic versions of Christmas songs that sound similar to famous holiday hits but likely have much lower licensing fees. The sets look like they were taken straight from the pages of a Pottery Ban ad, and the entire cast is whiter than Frosty.
Still, if you like the warm-hug feeling of a sappy Christmas movie, you could do worse than The Holiday Sitter.
I do appreciate that the film made an effort to make this feel like it was written specifically for gay characters, not just a gender-swapped script they had lying around. There is a memorable bit of dialogue towards the end of the film from Bennett’s character about his experiences as a gay man that I found particularly impactful.
You'll see the film's conclusion coming from a mile away, but I was sold on the lead actor's chemistry, at least. Plus Bennett's interactions with the child actors had moments that were both heartwarming and funny.
Final Thoughts: The Holiday Sitter Review
This movie was as good as it needed to be. It was no worse than other Hallmark Channel movies, but certainly not better either.
You might not laugh out loud at its jokes, but by the end even the Scrooge-iest of cynics will find something to fill them with at least a pinch of holiday cheer.