The only thing better than spending Christmas in paradise is finding love.
What wasn't there to love about Same Time, Next Christmas? It starred the glorious Lea Michele and the super hot (and talented, of course) Charles Michael Davis. The supporting cast was just as spectacular, and the location shots were gorgeous.
They transported us to the lovely resort along with them. When you're in the midst of a snowstorm, you appreciate the idea of spending the holidays with sand between your toes.
It's such an unusual tradition for a family to start. Olivia's family spent over 20 years attending the same resort in Hawaii for Christmas. They never had a break or considered going anywhere else.
Not only is that expensive as hell, but that's dedication. From the time she was five, she could remember playing on the beach, building sandcastles, and playing in the ocean.
Olivia; A white Christmas is for suckers.
She also remembered befriending Jeff, and from that point on, they were inseparable every year. Their friendship was adorable, and it seemed to carry over the year until they reunited again at Christmas.
Jeff became part of her tradition, too. Their families had an odd but friendly rivalry, but both adored the friendship between the kids.
After so many years of spending time together, even if it was for a week or two once a year, the Andersons and the Williams were like family with each other too.
You could understand how they had a winsome thing going, and that only a life-altering change would interfere with it. Jeff's mother died, and everything went to hell.
For 11 years, Olivia and Jeff's relationship grew until they were teenagers and shared their first kiss, expressing their mutual feelings. It's the slow-burn of all slow-burns.
But when Jeff's mother died, unfortunately, Olivia and Hawaii were the last things on his mind. So we're to understand that for another 15 years or so, the Williams' never came back.
Young Jeff left Olivia utterly heartbroken, but at that time, it wasn't of his doing. His family was going through a lot, so as painful as it was for Olivia, you couldn't fault him for pulling away.
It's a difficult age to lose a parent. By then, they likely headed in different directions anyway. College was upon them, and they lived in different parts of the country.
It's too bad we didn't get a better idea of what Jeff was thinking over those years. She was his childhood sweetheart, and he had to think about her often. If the ball was in anyone's court, it was in his.
He always knew where he could find her at Christmas if not any other time over the years.
He wasn't surprised when they bumped into each other again.
Deep down, he had to know she would be there, right? But the second they reunited, it was magical; it was almost too good to be true.
Jeff: I've missed this place.
Olivia: It's missed you.
They slipped back into their old ways. They were so comfortable with each other, and everything about their relationship was as easy as breathing. The time and distance didn't change that they knew each other down to their souls.
Davis and Michele had INCREDIBLE chemistry throughout the movie. From the second they were onscreen together, it was palpable. They sold me on it.
They looked so good together. Lea Michele is stunning, and Charles Michael Davis, I mean, look at him. I'm pretty sure the only thing brighter than his smile is the actual Sun.
Again, the casting for this movie was on point because everyone gelled well with one another. You believed that Jeff and Olivia were the love of each other's life and could visibly see the pain, hurt, and longing in their eyes when they weren't together.
Newbern and Vardalos had fantastic chemistry with each other too, as Olivia's parents who were all over each other even after decades of being married.
They were the quintessential parents. Faye invested in her daughter's love life and meddled whenever she got the chance. Meanwhile, Woody --with his laid back demeanor and dad jokes-- reined in his wife while agreeing with her.
Alec was a favorite with the way he used sports metaphors to give his son advice. Phil Morris and Davis' natural chemistry made their bond as father and son believable.
Alec: C'mon, kid. You can't climb a ladder with your hands in your pockets.
He also had a fun rapport with Newbern and Christina Souza (Mariel), which made their B-romance story one you invested in too.
But back to Davis and Michele, whose characters and their love story reeled you in.
The second Olivia and Jeff shared their first kiss since they were teenagers a half-hour into the movie, it spelled trouble.
Everything about their reunion was easy, so something had to come crashing down and fast. It was surprising when Jeff said he was married before and had a daughter.
Despite saying that, it was still a shock when he came to Olivia's room and told her he was giving his marriage another try.
How could he fall so deeply back in love with Olivia, kiss her like he's been dreaming about it for decades, and then turn his back on her again?
Olivia: What's wrong?
Jeff: Caroline called last night. She and Madelyn really miss me, and she said Christmas doesn't feel right without the family together. She wants to give things another try.
Olivia: And do you?
Jeff: I have to,um, I have to be there for Madelyn.
People tend to believe the best solution is to give a failed marriage another shot.
They especially jump to this conclusion when there's a child involved. However, if the parents aren't happy with each other, staying together won't benefit the child.
Kids are perceptive and intuitive; they can sense when something is wrong.
Madelyn was smart enough to pick up on the sparks between her father and Olivia later, so she sure as hell probably noticed that things weren't going well with Jeff and Caroline.
Madelyn: Mommy and daddy got 'forced so she's not here.
It was a heartbreaking moment. Olivia told him to go, how could she not when he mentioned his daughter? But it was reasonable for her to wonder if his feelings for her were real.
You don't say those types of things and then switch your emotions off after a phone call. She had every right to put walls up -- attempt to guard and protect her heart.
He couldn't control the circumstances around the first time he broke her heart, but it was within his control the second time.
After that, the timeline got dicey. The movie relied on throwaway lines to remind people that a year had past and it was a new Christmas, but after a while, they ran together.
It probably would have been beneficial if they put time stamps up to make it easier to follow.
From the first time they reunited until their happy ending, it was maybe a span of three years that passed?
Olivia started dating Greg somewhere along the way. He wasn't a jerk, which was refreshing. He wasn't a bad guy; he just wasn't the right guy for Olivia.
Jeff: Maybe the universe is trying to tell us something.
Olivia: Well, that same universe keeps bringing us together again.
They had different interests, and they weren't compatible. He was too work-oriented and goal-oriented. He was pragmatic, and he couldn't take a long enough breath to enjoy the moment.
How do you vacation in paradise and not slow down and take in the view? Who goes to the gym the entire time instead of the beach?
Who says "no" to a picnic on the beach in favor of a nature hike and those tasteless, hard granola bars that require a gallon of water just to wash down?
The one time he seemed to let loose was when he participated in the race. He was capable of the type of fun the Andersons adore.
It was something that tapped into his competitive side, and even though he had to be prompted to let Madelyn win, it showed he was capable of adaptability.
Greg wanted him and Olivia to be some sort of Power Couple. He spoke of their future as if they were building a dynasty together, but he never saw that it wasn't what Olivia wanted.
He wasn't malicious or intentional in his actions, but he dismissed and downplayed Olivia's dreams. She wanted to make something meaningful -- a building that mattered.
But he kept referring to that dream as a side hobby and pushed her to focus on big accounts with the city that mattered.
He assumed she was into making money and garnering attention like he was, and it wasn't the case.
It spoke volumes when planning their wedding for him became more so about networking for work than them sharing their special day with loved ones and celebrating their love.
Most of the time, a girl's wedding is something she dreams about, and she doesn't view it as a networking opportunity. Greg even added 100 more people and was more concerned about where to seat the mayor than anything else.
Greg: Sounds like I need to find a new queen.
Olivia: I'm sorry.
Greg: Can't close every deal, righ?
It was funny how he noticed the chemistry between Olivia and Jeff and never so much as commented or reacted to it. He gets points for not coming across as a jealous jackass.
He could have gotten upset so many times, including when a drunken Alec wished Olivia and Jeff well when he was supposed to say Greg.
Greg also picked up on how different he was from the rest of the family and how they had a general preference for Jeff.
He didn't allow it to faze him, but shouldn't he have? The signs were all over, so the only reason he should've been gobsmacked by Olivia calling off their wedding was because of her doing it the night before.
It's amazing what we're conditioned to believe is romantic when in reality, that's sucky timing.
How do you pull yourself together after a blow like that? Greg was resilient, but most people wouldn't be.
Woody's speech was the final nail in the coffin. He knew what he was doing giving his toast and talking about soulmates and finding the right person.
Woody: Olivia, now that you've found your soulmate, I'll tell you what I told your brother: Hold on tight, and never, ever, ever let go.
He blamed it on tradition since he gave the same speech to his son when he married his super hot hubby with the washboard abs.
But the whole Anderson crew were impatiently waiting for Olivia to get her head on straight, so it felt like a last-ditch effort to get her on the right track.
Did I mention how cool her parents were? They were the coolest.
Olivia's grand romantic gesture of bringing snow to the island resort was cute. It didn't take much to have Jeff falling back into her arms again.
He was relieved she didn't get married, and you know you're meant to be when the entire resort is watching you make out on the rooftop and celebrating. Their wedding was precious.
It was a low-key, relaxed event that suited them. The addition of the flower crowns as a nod to how Jeff made them for her was the sweetest, and her parents officiating the wedding was sweeter.
Jeff: Aren't you supposed to be getting married?
Olivia: No. I'm supposed to be right here giving you your white Christmas.
The pair jumping off the cliff into the ocean afterward was insane, though. Did they ever decide where they were going to live?
They both were throwing about so many different locations throughout the movie; it all got muddled.
Wherever they ended up, hopefully, Jeff could continue building his beautiful boats.
The combination of everything going on with his son and Olivia and spending time with Mariel made him realize how important it was that Jeff follow his dreams.
Previously, Alec would dismiss Jeff's boatmaking as a hobby. It was something that mattered to Jeff, though. Life is too short not to do what you love.
Alec spent a lot of time giving his son pep-talks, but thankfully, he learned to take his advice to heart, too.
He and Mariel had fantastic chemistry, and she cared about him and never hid it. They had a special bond over the years, and it was growing into something more significant.
Any diehard baseball fans who can get past the fact that one of them is a Yankees fan and the other a Red Sox deserve to be together forever.
Mariel's dream was simple; she wanted to run the resort. She enjoyed the island life, despite moving to Hawaii from New York years ago.
Mariel: Lifes too short to live someone else's dream.
To others, her dream may have been too simple, but it's what made her happy. Alec learned to respect that and also apply it to his son and himself.
The only downside is how Alec and Mariel's relationship slipped back into the background again when the focus was on Jeff and Olivia reuniting for good.
They did a beautiful job of building Alec and Mariel's relationship too. You wanted to see their happy ending, too.
Maybe it didn't deserve the same dramatic happy ending as the leads, but it deserved something that wasn't so subtle.
But the Williams men were happy by the end and found love (again). Jeff was with the person he belonged with since he was a child, and Alec found Mariel.
It meant Heidi didn't have to fret over him so much. She's another character who fell by the wayside. She had less presence than Olivia's brother and brother in law.
We knew nothing about her or her life, romantic or otherwise. We barely saw her throughout the movie. It would've been cool if she and Olivia were friendlier or something.
It was a fun, cute, romantic movie, and it was gorgeous to boot. It gets bonus points for being such a wonderfully and realistically diverse film.
Diverse Christmas films have become quite the hot topic, and it's nice that ABC can incorporate it better and organically compared to other networks.
Admittedly, Todd and Drew could've had more development, as they suffered almost as much as Heidi falling to the background, which was unfortuntate. But it was great to see.
Over to you, Fanatics. What did you think of Same Time Next Christmas?
Did you love the chemistry between Jeff and Olivia? Was there anything you didn't like? Hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.