A few years, the Hallmark Channel got the memo that there are other holidays in December besides Christmas and wrote several Chanukkah-themed movies. In 2022, the channel offered up Hanukkah On Rye, which was set in the world of Jewish delicatessens. This season, the network looks to not only to the Festival Of Lights, but also inspiration from time-loops, notably Groundhog Day in the movie Round and Round. It makes for a wittier and less saccharine choice than the more standard romantic Hallmark fare.
It’s the 7th night of Hanukkah and Rachel (Vic Michaelis) has to get sufganiyot on her way to her parent’s home in New Jersey. She’s a 30-something Brooklynite working in publishing making other peoples’ dreams a reality while letting her own writing sit dormant, and dating a Columbia University professor. She has to make her way to Goldberg’s Kosher Bakery because these are not just any ordinary sweet treats. The bakery, by the Brooklyn Bridge, is the site of her parents’ first date, on the 7th night, 36 years before. Her parents, Joanna (Nicole Oliver) and Stan (Suits’ Rick Hoffman) are celebrating their double chai anniversary, where they’ll be frying up latkes, lighting the menorah and spinning the dreidel for money (something I should have thought of long ago!).
Things first go awry when Rachel is at the train station, first getting bailed on by her no-good boyfriend Adam (David Attar) and then getting crashed into by Zach (Bryan Greenberg), an art teacher, sending her boxes of doughnuts flying into the air and spilling all over the ground. Zach ends up at the party, invited by Rachel’s very nudgy Grandma Rosie (Paula Shaw), who’s one of Zach’s students at her retirement community.
Once Rachel realizes she’s in a time loop, reliving December 13th over and over, she brings in Zach to help her figure out the inciting incident, and taking a page from Groundhog Day and the more recent Palm Springs, tells her the key is figuring out what she needs to change about her life. They’re joined by his comic bookstore-owning friend Seth (Amital Marmorstein) and Grandma Rosie, who knows more than it first appears.
The ending is, of course, no surprise, but there’s lots for Jewish (and non) viewers to enjoy along the way, from Stan’s “I love you a latke” apron (adorbs!), to a family full of yentas (oy with all the people getting in Rachel’s business!) to a customer in the bakery queue wishing Rachel a Chag Sameach and sharing her two cents as well about Rachel’s loser boyfriend. Michaelis and Greenberg have good chemistry, Hoffman is a delight and I’m happy to see veteran actress Shaw cornering the market on Jewish grandmas for Hallmark (she was also in Rye).
I give the movie four out of five sufganiyot. Savor it with a plate of your own!
Round And Round airs throughout December. Watch it next on Saturday, December 16. Check Hallmark.com for additional dates.