Hallmark's "Sweet Carolina" & "Winter in Vail"-Which Is Your Favorite?

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes

Sweet Carolina Summary:  A busy marketing executive returns to her childhood home in order to become a guardian to her niece and nephew, and she also reconnects with an ex-boyfriend.  (Released 2021)

Winter in Vail Summary:  A woman inherits a house in Vail, Colorado, and soon stumbles across a man she develops a connection with, and together, the two of them put on a festival. (Released 2020)

Winter in Vail-Image: Crown Media

Sweet Carolina-Image:  Crown Media

Which Story Is More Unique?

Winter in Vail was a resounding success when it aired during Winterfest in 2020.  Fans were enthralled with the chemistry, especially the final kiss between Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes when they were on the deck looking at the stars.

Image:  Crown Media

While many Hallmark movies incorporate a town festival, the Strudel Fest in this movie is really unique.  Chelsea learns her Uncle Grady had been a pastry chef, known for his legendary strudel, and she finds his special recipe. Baking is a recurrent Hallmark theme, but working strudel dough until it is thin enough to read through is far different than the usual sugar cookie baking and decorating.  

Chabert's characters have inherited estates before--think All of My Heart and Love on Safari--but the Colorado setting is so quaint, especially the location of the chalet.  The downtown doesn't allow cars and is pedestrian traffic only--another added nuance.

Making strudel sounds like a lot of work!  Image:  Crown Media

Chelsea and Owen go tubing down the mountain after riding to the top on a gondola--an activity we don't see nearly as often as carriage rides, ice skating, and camp fires.  It's one of the first times where a delicious cup of hot chocolate is referred to as winter in a cup.

Chelsea and Owen go snow tubing.  Image:  Crown Media

When Sweet Carolina premiered, fans were expecting more of the same sizzle they enjoyed with Winter in Vail, but the pressure was on because Hynes had just starred in It Was Always You, which ended up being a tough act to follow.  Online reviews show Winter in Vail holds a slight edge over Sweet Carolina.

Sweet Carolina is a poignant story about a woman, Josie, losing both her sister and brother-in-law and unexpectedly being named the guardian of her niece and nephew.  The movie is heartfelt and shows the realistic struggle a family faces in a custody shift resulting from a traumatic circumstance.  No one pretends to be happy.  The viewer is moved by the grief, loss, and upheaval experienced by Josie's family, but the story isn't a downer because it ultimately inspires hope.

One of the best lines from the movie is memories that make you cry now will make you smile later.  If you've lost a loved one, you know that statement is very true.

Josie gives her niece a charm for her mother's bracelet, but it makes her sad instead of happy. Image:  Crown Media

The only issue is that this story line is stale.  It's hard to keep track of the number of Hallmark movies that feature orphans being adopted by someone else--sometimes a family member, sometimes a stranger.  Who knew young parents died so often!

The scene where Josie and the kids are baking in the kitchen and throw flour at each other is also redundant in Hallmark movies.  Who does that anyway?  No one.  

If anyone threw that much flour at me, I wouldn't be smiling, and they'd have a wooden spoon up their rear.  Image:  Crown Media

As we watch the family advance through the stages of grief towards healing, we enjoy a few comedic respites.  Josie and Cooper trade jabs with playful banter, and it's fun.  Josie embarrasses herself when she thinks Cooper is planning to propose but learns he actually wants to borrow her dad's van for games.  At the end, she only agrees to go on a date with him if he makes the basketball shot that keeps eluding him--he doesn't make it, but admits she's a sucker for a guy with a whistle.

Josie and Cooper relive some of their best high school moments--that type of nostalgia is very relatable to viewers.

Chelsea and Cooper are back in their high school, but this time as adults instead of students. Image: Crown Media

The disappointing final kiss in Sweet Carolina cannot be overstated.  It pales in comparison to the kiss in Winter in Vail.  Maybe COVID has made everyone a little more germ-conscious because this is one in a long line of recent Hallmark movies where kisses are little more than a brief peck, with the actors clamping their lips tightly shut.  This needs to stop.  Viewers love the story, but we eagerly await the final kiss, and it needs to be a doozie.

Just when you think the kiss is going to be epic, if fizzles.  Image:  Crown Media

Both movies allow the female leading character to uproot her life with her portable career and connect with the male leading actor, who is the town native.

Although I enjoy both movies, Winter in Vail is my favorite.  The story is fresher and less cliche. Below, vote for which one YOU think is best.  

Add These Movies To Your Collection

Any movie with Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes is a keeper, and both of these movies are available on DVD.

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