Hallmark's A World Record Christmas: Rewatch Or Regift?

While Hallmark's royal-themed Christmas movie formula has been hugely successful, the network isn't just sitting on its laurels churning out films with the same old tropes. In fact, Hallmark has really pushed the boundaries this year with its latest slate of holiday films. With such titles under its 2023 belt as "The Santa Summit," and July's "Take Me Back for Christmas," the channel has proven that you don't need a fictitious royal family, or even magic, to tell a truly winning story. 

"A World Record Christmas" is part of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' Miracles of Christmas 2023 event and it definitely has major rewatch potential. The movie is based on the true-life account of Auldin Maxwell, an autistic teen who has been breaking world records by stacking the most amount of Jenga blocks since 2020. Most recently, he stacked 1,840 blocks atop one vertical piece and then used one Giant Jenga block vertically to stack 900 Giant ones, nailing the Guinness World Record just in time for the legendary book's upcoming 2024 edition. 

In the film, Aias Dalman plays Charlie Parsons, an autistic boy who not only refuses to be defined by his diagnosis but also wants to make his absentee biological father proud by breaking a world record on his own. While his mother and step-father, Marissa (Nikki Deloach) and Eric Parsons (Lucas Bryant), are having minor marital issues, they're able to learn from Charlie's determination. Accessible and relatable, this movie is heartwarming without ever being sappy.

Charlie is focused and driven

In Hallmark's "A World Record Christmas," the town of Brookswood is famous for breaking various world records, and on Christmas Eve the citizens plan to break the record for wrapping the most amount of gifts in an hour. Inspired by this, Charlie's Christmas wish is to break a record of his own. As he's in the library pondering his options, his step-father, Eric, notices Charlie looking at books on autism and inquires about what he's thinking. "All of these are about me," Charlie states, elaborating, "I just wanted to be in a book that's not in the psychology section." 

While Eric would be honored for Charlie to call him "Dad," the young man is focused on getting the attention of his deadbeat bio father, Peter (Matt Hamilton), who doesn't even respond to his son's emails. Meanwhile, Eric and Marissa seem to be caught in a holding pattern, and their attempt at a date night is interrupted when Charlie gets upset that his friend Amy (Daphne Hoskins) received text messages from another boy. 

Charlie's mom has to explain to him that this new emotion making him uncomfortable is called jealousy, and helps him navigate his feelings. Charlie soon decides to break the world record of Jenga stacking and is excited that an adjudicator for Guinness — who'll be in town anyway to observe Brookswood's gift-wrapping attempt — agrees to see whether or not he can stack nearly 2,000 Jenga pieces in just two hours.

Dalman brings depth to Charlie

"A World Record Christmas" star Nikki Deloach began working with Hallmark in 2015 when she starred in "Christmas Land." Deloach also previously appeared on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives" briefly from 2007 to 2009. Lucas Bryant, meanwhile, has been in several TV shows including Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Young Aias Dalman already has an impressive resume, having appeared in several short films, as well as "Doomsday Mom" and "House of Chains" among many others. And the real record-holder himself, Auldin Maxwell, has a brief cameo in the film. 

Matt Hamilton makes his portrayal of the deadbeat Peter completely believable, and you'll be surprised at where his character's arc goes. Expertly directed by Jason Bourque, whose projects range from action films to festive fare, the movie delves into exciting new territory without falling victim to the typical tropes. Writer Mark Hefti crafts a nice little drama here that is respectful of autism while making it accessible and interesting to all audiences. Charlie's awareness of his autism is a facet rarely explored in films, and Dalman's performance brings great depth to him. 

There won't be a dry eye in the house when you reach the end, but don't get us wrong, they will be tears of happiness as all the characters learn what family truly means to them. Highly recommended, "A World Record Christmas" is a must-see holiday film that will soon join your annual festive rotation.