Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas continues with A Very Merry Bridesmaid, a movie that combines all of our favorite things: romance, weddings, the holidays, and Emily Osment in leading roles. But is A Very Merry Bridesmaid worth committing to on a Saturday night, or should you leave it standing at the alter?
The Gist: Emily Osment (Pretty Smart, The Kominsky Method) plays Leah, owner of a shop in the Chicago suburbs called Worldly Charm. She’s dealing with way more than the usual Christmas rush this year; her brother Paul (Patch May) is getting married on Christmas Eve! Uh… and Leah’s 30th birthday just so happens to be on Christmas Eve too. But that’s fine. The 30th birthday is just a milestone event and Leah wanted to have seen the world by this point in her life. Instead she’s running a store while her brother and future sister-in-law Julia (Frances Leigh) make her play bridesmaid on her birthday. It’s fine, it’s really fine!
You know who thinks it isn’t fine? Emily and Paul’s childhood neighbor and friend Drew (Casey Deidrick). He’s back in town to play best man at the wedding, and he thinks it’s bogus that Leah’s always giving up her birthday to Christmas—and now she’s giving it up to Christmas and a wedding. Drew sets out to make Leah’s 30th a birthday to remember while everyone else in Leah’s family scrambles to give Julia the wedding of her dreams. Will Leah get completely overshadowed again? And will she have a romantic connection with Drew before he leaves town for another international jaunt?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The mix of Christmas and wedding vibes are very While You Were Sleeping. Also, the gorgeous houses and cozy lighting makes this film feel very Nancy Meyers.
Performance Worth Watching: You gotta hand it to Frances Leigh. She’s given the truly thankless role of the obliviously entitled bride whose every line of dialogue drips with passive aggression. But! By the end of the film, she actually makes Julia a sympathetic character. We love to see a character arc in a Hallmark movie!
Memorable Dialogue: An example of Julia being the absolute most, she says this to her future in-laws: “I simply want to have my dream wedding.” Simply!
A Holiday Tradition: Well, Leah’s birthday falls on Christmas Eve every year, and the whole film is built around that. Birthdays are a big tradition, even if it’s continually overshadowed!
Does the Title Make Any Sense?: Absolutely. Well—maybe not the Merry part. Emily’s pretty resigned to a life of running her shop and staying close to home instead of traveling the world like she wants, but A Very Resigned Bridesmaid isn’t a Christmas-y title.
Our Take: Emily Osment is the future of Hallmark Christmas movies. There, I said it! The Hallmark OGs—Lacey Chabert, Candace Cameron Bure—have been at this for a while and Danica McKellar went exclusive with GAC Family. The network needs a new roster of young talent to turn out annual holiday movies, talent that’s watchable and dependable. With her second Hallmark holiday movie (after 2018’s Christmas Wonderland), Osment proves she should be the network’s new go-to lead.
Like the other A-list Hallmark leads, Osment is just a total natural at playing the kind of scrappy girl next door archetype that these movies so love to set up on holiday dates. In A Very Merry Bridesmaid, Osment brings so much warmth and heart to the role of Leah, which TBH is a role that could come across as kind of a bummer! She wanted to see the world, but instead she only sees the world via the international trinkets she buys at trade shows—and she’s accepted the fact that her birthday will never be her special day. But Osment plays that by bringing a tinge of melancholy to an otherwise witty and capable lead. She makes Leah way more lovable than pitiful.
But Osment isn’t the only reason to make time on a Saturday night to watch A Very Merry Bridesmaid. The entire film, from the pleasantly grounded script to the surprisingly rich cinematography, is a win for Hallmark. Even though there’s no time traveling train, even though no one asks “what if” and wakes up in a parallel reality, even though no one gets caught in an elaborate lie, A Very Merry Bridesmaid stands out because of some subtle tweaks to the Hallmark formula. For one thing, Leah’s best friend Marcie (Parmiss Sehat) has a wife (Libby Osler), so pound the newly-installed HALLMARK XMAS GAYS alarm. I also love that Leah’s big conflict involves getting out of her hometown so she can see the world. That is literally the opposite of practically every Hallmark holiday movie!
Sometimes you enjoy these movies for their “Wait… what?” moments, instances where logic flies out the window in place of good ol’ Christmas magic (no shade: I love those moments). A Very Merry Bridesmaid, though, doesn’t rely on big gimmicks or grand gestures. It’s just a sweet movie with a charming lead and a cast of performers that feel like family.
Our Call: STREAM IT, and please let this be the first of many, many Hallmark movies for Emily Osment.
A Very Merry Bridesmaid premieres on Hallmark on Saturday, December 4 at 8 p.m. ET.