Round and Round: The 2023 Hallmark Chanukah Movie

Round and Round draws inspiration from the likes of Groundhog Day and Palm Springs in this year’s Hallmark Chanukah movie.

It’s honestly surprising to see the 2020 time-loop rom-com referenced in the film. While it came out in summer 2020, it feels much shorter than that because of the pandemic. In terms of the universe in the film, Palm Springs has not caught on in the same way as the Harold Ramis classic starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. But I digress. We’re here to talk about Chanukah, am I right?

The gist of the film is that Rachel (Vic Michaelis) finds herself reliving a time loop on the six day of Chanukah going into the seventh night of Chanukah. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Rosie (Paula Shaw), is seeking to set her up with Zach (Bryan Greenberg). How did Rachel find herself stuck inside a time loop and what can she do to get out of it? Will she relive the same day for 12,000+ days like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? How does she approach Zach every day in hopes of breaking the loop and not coming off like some sort of stalker? Watch the film for yourself and find out.

The Hallmark Chanukah films are still limited to the same tropes because of the network. That being said, it is not unfair to say that a time loop film is a breath of fresh air. We get Jews hanging out at a comic book store trying to break the loop! After all, Hallmark is still trying to develop a second plot, right? I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, this is one of their better offerings in the genre. Personally, I prefer last year’s Hanukkah on Rye. As things currently stand, the film ranks #2 in their Chanukah movie selections. But again, this is not saying much.

As is often the case, I pay attention to what they get wrong in every Chanukah movie. While the Hallmark Chanukah genre has shown improvement, there’s definitely an instance where they fell asleep at the wheel. I’m assuming someone wasn’t familiar with how things translate or maybe they translated it and didn’t realize that Hebrew is read differently from English. During the film’s final minutes (without giving the plot away), a sign with a dreidel on the wall just happens to be this year’s culprit. As if the wording is not wrong enough, the dreidel is in the wrong order with Shin coming before Hay. Hay should come before Shin because it is Nes Gadol Haya Sham–a great miracle happened there. As for the sign, it should say:

חנוכה שמח

Instead, it displays the following in broken lines:

שמח
חנוכה

For those who cannot read Hebrew, the words should translate as Happy Chanukah. But rather than “Happy” going first, it should be placed after Chanukah as in Chanukah Sameach. I don’t make the rules here but anybody with a knowledge of Jewish holiday greetings is going to notice it as I did. The same would still apply even if they used Chag Urim Sameach. Obviously, the error has nothing to do with screenwriter Tamar Laddy. It really comes down to set decorators and props who are placing the decorations on the wall. But surely, someone–anyone–paying attention would notice it was wrong! Better yet, please have a rabbinic or Hebrew consultant on set. The Jewish viewers will notice these things immediately and it’s what they’ll be discussing on social media.

(Edit: I did not notice it the first time but thanks to HanukkahFails sharing a story on Instagram, there is a menorah on the island counter appearing at 5:45 minutes into the film. This is wrong because it is the ancient Temple Menorah with 7 candle holders. The Chanukah Menorah–or Chanukiah–requires nine candle holders for the Shamash and eight Chanukah candles.)

Maybe this year–more so than prior years–it would be nice to have something in the film about the history of Chanukah. We know about the Chanukiah, dreidels, latkes, and sufganiyot. I’m talking about the holiday roots coming from the Maccabees fighting back against the Greek colonizers over assimilation. Of course, this is nothing new for Jewish readers. We all grew up learning about Judah and the Maccabees and the fight against Antiochus IV in Sunday School or Hebrew School. Anyway, the Syrian-Greeks prevented Jews from practicing their religion in Judea. Everything was prohibited with the penalty of death. What is the most saddening about all this is how the Hellenized Jews sided with the Greeks. We’re talking about a very serious threat to Jewish survival! But in short, here is a quick summary of what took place:

In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in G‑d. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G‑d.

Because the holiday deals with self-determination of the Jewish people in our homeland, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to Chanukah as a Zionist holiday. After they destroyed the Temple, there was enough oil to last for just one day. The miracle is that it went on to burn for eight days during the rededication of the Temple in 139 BCE. We burn the candles–using the Beis Hillel model–after nightfall to bring light into darkness. Following the rededication is where we get into a problem. In Judaism, the royal throne belongs to the House of King David. However, the Maccabees, who were Kohanim (descendants of Aaron), went onto take the kingship for themselves. Further power grabs by king after king–things did not end well. But still, the Maccabees did their part by putting their trust in G-d while fighting back against tyranny.

As far as Hallmark Chanukah movies go, Round and Round is in the upper tier but this isn’t saying much given a very limited selection.

DIRECTOR: Stacey N. Harding
SCREENWRITER: Tamar Laddy
CAST: Vic Michaelis, Bryan Greenberg, Nicole Oliver, Paula Shaw, Amitai Marmorstein, and Rick Hoffman

Round and Round premieres December 10, 2023 at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT on the Hallmark Channel. Grade: 3.5/5

Please subscribe to Dugout Dirt and Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

You Missed

On the Waterfront Gets Early 70th Anniversary Viewing on TCM

On the Waterfront Gets Early 70th Anniversary Viewing on TCM

Founding Brothers: Six Key Moments in American History

Founding Brothers: Six Key Moments in American History

A Capitol Fourth Returns to West Lawn for America’s Birthday

A Capitol Fourth Returns to West Lawn for America’s Birthday

4th of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular Marks 50 Years

4th of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular Marks 50 Years

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Returns to the Hudson River for 2024

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Returns to the Hudson River for 2024

Despicable Me 4: You’ll Like It or You Won’t

Despicable Me 4: You’ll Like It or You Won’t