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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that When Calls the Heart: The Heart of Homecoming is part of the When Calls the Heart franchise originating with a book and then adapted for television in a long-running Canadian series broadcast on The Hallmark Channel. Miracles, kindnesses, and happy endings endure in Hope Valley, a small Canadian town near the turn of the 20th century. This special 84-minute movie, previously titled When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree, aired on Christmas Day 2017 to begin Season 5 of the show. Fans of the wholesome stories, the hope- and faith-filled messages, and the town made up almost entirely of generous, thoughtful, and caring people with some occasional unorthodox characters won't be disappointed. First-time viewers will find much to like, but without the added resonance of past events and character histories.
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What's the story?
Christmas is coming to Hope Valley in WHEN CALLS THE HEART: THE HEART OF HOMECOMING. Everyone is busily engaged in preparing for the holiday joy and the Christmas parade. The festivities have been made extra special this year with the addition of a Christmas Wishing Tree. Each person will make an ornament announcing his or her Christmas wish and place it on the tree. Those ornaments will be taken by others whose mission it is to make that wish come true. And stories abound. Schoolteacher Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) is longing to see Jack (Daniel Lissing), her beloved fiancé who is working in Canada's Northwest Territories as a Mountie. Mayor Abigail (Lori Loughlin) is awaiting daughter Becky's arrival when a snowstorm interferes with her plans. And Abigail is hoping to give a brief second chance to ex-mayor Henry Gowan (Martin Cummins), who is awaiting a long prison term. Others in the valley have uncertainty as well: an expectant couple, an elderly woman, and a young man faced with sudden temptation. For everyone involved, surprises and miracles are only a heartbeat away.
Is it any good?
Nice people in a picturesque setting with solvable problems and a true sense of community find new ways to express their hope and faith in this holiday entry from the ongoing Canadian franchise. Brighter teeth, wider smiles, and loving affirmations have all found a true home in Hope Valley. It all goes down easily in When Calls the Heart: The Heart of Homecoming, and even the few twists meant to surprise viewers aren't terribly unpredictable. Conflict comes from acts of nature, hurt feelings, old sorrows, and miscommunication rather than villains. It's always wholesome, always good-hearted, and one can forgive the sometimes wooden acting, lack of nuance, and prettified view of a time long gone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the world has changed since the time period shown in When Calls the Heart: The Heart of Homecoming. What lessons still have meaning for us more than 100 years later? Do the concepts of teamwork and kindness ever change? There's an expression that goes "the more things change, the more they stay the same." How does the When Calls the Heart franchise prove this to be true?
Were you familiar with the When Calls the Heart series on The Hallmark Channel before you saw this? What is it about the characters and stories that keeps you coming back? If you hadn't seen this series before, did watching this film encourage you to see more of it?
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2018
- Cast: Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin
- Director: Neill Fearnley
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, History, Holidays
- Character strengths: Gratitude, Teamwork
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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