Is Hallmark’s New Hanukkah Movie ‘Round and Round’ Perfect? Let’s Discuss.

When there's a new Hanukkah rom-com, we watch it and tell you about it. Those are simply the rules.

When Hallmark puts out a new Hanukkah movie, we watch it and tell you all about it! Those are simply the rules.

What is the new Hanukkah movie? “Round and Round,” a time loop movie that takes place on the seventh night of Hanukkah, starring Vic Michaelis and Bryan Greenberg.

Who is we? Molly Tolsky, editor of Hey Alma; Vanessa Friedman, deputy managing editor of Hey Alma; Evelyn Frick, associate editor of Hey Alma; Lior Zaltzman, deputy managing editor of Kveller (our sister site!); and Shevy Baskin, director of audience engagement at Hey Alma and Kveller.

We convened together on the last day of Hanukkah to discuss how much we genuinely loved this film and also how scared we are of time loops, amongst other things. Suffice it to say, there are major spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading right now (but go watch this movie, it is really very good).

This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.

Vanessa: I bring us here today to discuss “Round and Round!”

Shevy: OK first, is Vic Michaelis Jewish?

Vanessa: We have not cracked that mystery yet.

Molly: We have all obviously been frantically googling whether Vic is Jewish.

Lior: Obviously.

Shevy: I found their pronunciation of sufganiyot pretty solid.

Lior: Yeah, it was pretty good.

Evelyn: I really liked them so obvi I was hoping they are Jewish lol.

Vanessa: What did we all think of the movie? I’ll start: I loved it.

Molly: I loved it!!!!

Lior: I adored it too.

Shevy: I think it might be one of my favorite movies I’ve seen all year??

Evelyn: I’m not a huge Hallmark holiday movie person so I started out skeptical and it really grew on me.

Molly: To me this wasn’t just a good Hallmark Hanukkah movie, but just a good movie. Period.

Lior: Shevy and Molly, I agree, one of the best movies of the year.

Vanessa: I also agree. It was just a genuinely good movie.

Evelyn: Oh yeah, I’ve watched a few Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas and Hanukkah movies for work and I usually give them grace because they’re not like big productions, but this felt like a movie movie.

Molly: I do enjoy Hallmark holiday movies for what they are, which is typically very bad but in a fun way. So I was expecting this to be very bad in a fun way, but it was actually just good in a fun way.

Shevy: Also the self-awareness takes it to a very different place than most Hallmark movies.

Vanessa: Obviously I loved the lesbian couple, because I am a stereotype of myself.

Evelyn: As soon as Rachel arrived at the house and there was an androgynous person with frosted tips I was on board.

Lior: Yes I was so excited for that too — so nice to see it in a Hallmark movie also without any spelling out about the queer couple.

Vanessa: So, confession: I’ve never seen a Hallmark movie before this one.

Lior: OMG Vanessa!

Molly: Whoa. OK, Vanessa, they are… not like this.

Lior: Yeah, I’m sorry to report this movie is not representative.

Evelyn: The writing is so terrible usually.

Shevy: But maybe they can aim for more like this??

Molly: Hopefully is we publish enough glowing reviews they will get the hint. More this, less everything else.

Evelyn: Hallmark has set the bar really high for themselves next year.

Shevy: Honestly impossibly high.

Lior: I mean, it’s a traditional romance movie in that you know what you’re going to get and you know it’s shot in Canada.

Evelyn: Hahahaha.

Vanessa: Shevy what were some of the self-aware moments you loved?

Shevy: I wouldn’t even say so much that I love the self-awareness, just that it eases some of the badness of a classic Hallmark movie.

Vanessa: That makes sense… like, we all know what’s going on here!

Evelyn: One self-aware moment I loved was when they brought up “Groundhog Day.” Like everyone is going to compare a time loop movie to that, so why not talk about it? The part where they were deciding who was Andie MacDowell and who was Bill Murray and who was the groundhog was good. I think they brought up “Palm Springs” too?

Molly: Yes, the whole “Am I Andie MacDowell?” bit was pretty delightful.

Vanessa: “You can be the alarm clock” was very LOL to me.

Lior: There were so many fun pop culture references!

Shevy: Right? And they are playing on gender as they do it — I promise you, most Hallmark movies are very into stereotypical gender roles.

Vanessa: Yes, this Hallmark film felt very queer — even before I knew the lead is actually a nonbinary actor — and I obviously loved that.

Shevy: Actually my favorite self-aware line was when the nerd says he felt the mentor character was 2-D… when he is the mentor character!

Lior: Yes, I loved that!

Molly: Can we talk about something that I think makes this movie different from all Hallmark movies? It’s actually funny!

Evelyn: And the jokes (mostly) didn’t rely on stereotypes.

Molly: Vic Michaelis comes from an improv comedy background and I think having someone who is actually funny in the lead makes a huge difference.

Lior: Yes, I loved the humor. I found myself cackling on multiple occasions.

Shevy: Plus! Nerd culture!

Photo via Hallmark Channel

Lior: The nerd culture was delightful, and I loved that Rachel’s cousin was also super into it, speaking of gender roles.

Evelyn: It had a little bit of everything for everyone.

Vanessa: I was also laughing out loud! I didn’t know that wasn’t typical for Hallmark films.

Molly: Vanessa I really need you to go watch any other Hallmark movie after this.

Vanessa: Molly I’m having deja vu of you saying that to me before, leading me to wonder if I’m in a time loop.

Molly: Ahhhhhh!

Vanessa: Which brings me to a question that is, frankly, always on my mind. Are time loops inherently Jewish?

Evelyn: Time loops are so scary to me.

Lior: Time loops are terrifying.

Shevy: This reminds me of the part of the movie where Zach reminds them that in the Superman movie, it’s not real. So you don’t actually have to worry.

Vanessa: I had to have time loops explained to me in depth during season two of “Russian Doll” and I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure I get it, but I do feel they’re very Jewish.

Lior: I think they really tap into existential angst in a way that feels Jewish.

Molly: Judaism is so cyclical, ya know? We read the same Torah every year in the same order.

Vanessa: It’s true! Feeling emotional about Judaism and time loops now.

Molly: Another self-aware part that was cool was being aware that you need a big internal change to get out of the time loop.

Vanessa: Yeah! Zach knowing that was so smart, and made me love him.

Evelyn: I don’t know if I’d be that level-headed in a time loop situation to figure out the change part. I’d mostly be screaming.

Molly: I think I would have fun in a time loop, honestly. It’s like when I know I’m dreaming so I just start doing wild shit because there are no consequences!!!

Vanessa: You can control your dreams like that?!

Molly: Sometimes, yes.

Vanessa: OK wow, brag. So did this movie feel like an accurate portrayal of Judaism? An accurate portrayal of a Jewish family’s Hanukkah celebration?

Lior: The table full of food, yes, the candle lighting, yes, the humor and the picking at each other, yes.

Vanessa: My family personally does not have a magical witch grandma or a 7th Night of Hanukkah big party, but I liked the loving family vibe.

Evelyn: There was nothing glaringly wrong to me, except the seven-branch menorah in one scene. Though I wasn’t sure if that was because they were highlighting the 7th night and the meaning it had to the family…

Vanessa: That is very generous, Evelyn.

Shevy: Mostly yes, but I have a few complaints.

Vanessa: You know I want to hear your complaints, Shevy!

Shevy: When the cousin says she comes back every year for Hanukkah… c’mon, if she’s flying across the pond, it’s for Passover.

Molly: LOL yes. Maybe Rosh.

Vanessa: Hahaha it’s true, unless she’s interfaith and is coming back for Hanukkah and Christmas.

Lior: I do sometimes fly home for Hanukkah, but only if the timing is good with holidays.

Evelyn: Maybe it’s easier because she has more time off in the winter?

Shevy: There’s another part where the comic book guy says “I hate to do this to you on Hanukkah.” It’s not Christmas!

Molly: Now that I think about it, was Christmas ever mentioned in this movie?

Vanessa: I don’t think so at all.

Shevy: They show Christmas stuff at the retirement home. Like Santa, etc. That’s it!

Lior: The busker had some Christmas decor around him too.

Molly: Right, right. Still, pretty wild. This was obviously an over-the-top Hanukkah celebration in a way that I don’t think most families do. But I think they wrote around that a little by making it their parents’ anniversary and a big thing in their particular family because of that history.

Shevy: Yes Molly, my husband said they smartly wrote that plot device. Like otherwise who has SUCH a set night for a party? You just pick a weekend night.

Lior: My family’s Hanukkahs get pretty over the top. It’s just a good holiday for big dinner parties. To me it’s such a fun low stakes holiday to go all out in.

Evelyn: The 7th night is very nothingburger for me.

Vanessa: My best friend watched it last night and was live-texting me, and she complained it was too quiet for a Jewish family gathering. But I liked that it wasn’t like, an obnoxious nagging mom, a loud fight, etc… it felt nice not to be reduced to those stereotypes.

Evelyn: Agreed!

Shevy: Right, and there was only one kid. So a bit quieter because of that.

Lior: It still felt rowdy, they had fun. The competitive dreideling was happening.

Molly: Yeah it really did not rely on stereotypes! There wasn’t like a random rabbi coming through. I don’t think “Hava Nagila” ever played? So refreshing.

Shevy: Yes! And no explaining the holiday.

Lior: Yes! No klezmer! I hate the forced klezmer.

Shevy: Jews like ’80s pop ballads too!

Lior: We don’t need klezmer!

[Editor’s note: Lior has requested we clarify — “I love klezmer! I just don’t like it when it’s used to artificially mark that something is Jewish.”]

Vanessa: Jews LOVE ’80s pop ballads.

Lior: Yeah we’ve even written some great ’80s pop ballads ourselves.

Shevy: Also, Lior, to your point about competitive dreideling — at least there was booze next to them. No one is playing competitive dreidel as an adult without it.

Vanessa: Confirm.

Evelyn: Oh one thing that didn’t ring true for me though is that heirloom dreidel is not a spinning dreidel. It’s a dreidel you put on a shelf and look at.

Photo via Hallmark Channel

Vanessa: Another note from my best friend: “No one was anxious enough.” But I felt the time loop concept as a whole was quite anxious, which is part of what makes me feel time loops are Jewish…

Shevy: Also the main character is pretty anxious.

Lior: I think Rachel was anxious, yeah.

Molly: An editor who really wants to be a writer? I couldn’t relate.

Evelyn: Hahaha.

Shevy: I just loved that no one explains the holiday.

Lior: Yes, someone mentioned that they explained sufganiyot and chai in a Forward piece but the way they explained it even felt authentic.

Vanessa: Yes, and the one part where the dad starts explaining and he’s like, “I’m mansplaining!” Very cute.

Lior: Right, the dad being like, “double chai, it’s a lucky number,” of course he would.

Vanessa: Let’s talk about the casting. Did we like the casting? Was there chemistry?

Evelyn: I thought the chemistry was so real.

Shevy: Really good.

Lior: I loved it! They were both great! I loved the way they showed them gradually falling for each other, or more accurately Rachel falling for him more every loop.

Molly: I think a big part of the movie’s success was Vic. Like I said earlier, they are really funny and charming and likable but also authentic feeling.

Vanessa: Agree. I would’ve watched Vic doing anything.

Shevy: Every time Zach implies… “Did we…?”

Molly: Yeah, I totally fell for their chemistry.

Vanessa: Yeah, their chemistry felt good and real! I also spent the whole movie wondering if I went to summer camp with Bryan Greenberg but I think maybe he’s just One of Those Guys? Has anyone seen him in anything else?

Molly: He is definitely One of Those Guys. A Jewish everyman, if you will.

Lior: I think about Bryan Greenberg a lot for some reason.

Molly: Go on.

Lior: I think he’s just very charming in whatever he does.

Vanessa: I was charmed! Not like, Mandy-Patinkin-In-“Yentl” level charmed. But charmed nonetheless.

Lior: Yes!! So charming, so winning, such an actual Nice Jewish Boy.

Molly: Zach was the right name for him. Such a Zach.

Shevy: He is best known for “One Tree Hill,” a show I never watched.

Molly: And “Mindy Project.” Has anyone done a deep dive on his personal life? What’s his deal?

Lior: We have on Kveller, because he is a jaddy.

Vanessa: I heard a rumor Hey Alma is doing 18 Things on him this week…

Evelyn: He and his wife are such a cute couple.

Lior: Super cute! Their babies are cute, too.

Evelyn: He should be cast in more things.

Lior: Also! Rick Hoffman!


Rick Hoffman in Round and Round
Photo via Hallmark Channel

Lior: He was such a wonderful Jewish dad. I really felt the love. And the bad jokes.

Evelyn: Also he did “Suits” which means we were one degree of separation away from Meghan Markle being in this movie.

Vanessa: I liked that I got gay energy from him but also Wife Guy energy.

Lior: That is very much Jewish dad energy to me, Vanessa.

Vanessa: Me too, Lior! Like genuinely.


Molly: Garbagio!!! That was great. The same joke every time works for both time loops and Jewish dads.

Vanessa: Another way in which time loops are coded Jewish!

Lior: They’re the Jewish dads of movie tropes.

Evelyn: A movie about a Jewish dad in a time loop who doesn’t notice at all because he tells the same jokes and does the same exact routine every day.

Molly: Hahaha!

Vanessa: CALL HALLMARK IMMEDIATELY. I’d watch that film.


Evelyn: Writing the script ASAP.

Vanessa: Why was the cat hissing breakup scene the funniest part of the whole film?

Lior: THE CAT HISSING SCENE WAS SO GOOD. The whole bar scene was impeccable.

Shevy: So playful.

Evelyn: That had to be improv’d, right?

Shevy: Again, chemistry

Vanessa: Hopefully we can get a screenshot and put it right here so everyone can witness how funny it is.

[Editor’s note: Sadly, we could not get a screenshot of the cat hissing scene so it is not right here. You will have to watch the movie to witness how funny it is.]

Lior: Speaking of Adam and the breakup, him pretending to have an “airport cold” was so silly.

Shevy: Actually that felt very real to me. For all the hypochondriacs in my life.

Evelyn: Airport colds are real!!

Vanessa: Real or not, I hated Adam. I was SO MAD when he showed up at the end.

Evelyn: Adam was not respecting Rachel’s boundaries at the end!!!

Lior: I know, so rude to crash a party you’ve been disinvited from.

Vanessa: Another very important question — would we stand in line for those sufganiyot?

Molly: Jelly donuts are bad, there I said it.

Shevy: Probably yes. Lemon donuts. Not just jelly, Molly!

Molly: Donuts need chocolate.

Vanessa: Not to be annoying but I just make my own.

Lior: I would stand in line for sufganiyot for sure.

Vanessa: I mean, on principle I’ll stand in line for good food.

Shevy: I made my own too!

Lior: I do make my own, too, but if they’re really really good I stand in line.

Shevy: Well, I don’t do the frying.

Lior: Tonight we’re making sfenj and sufganiyot. We’re going all out.

Vanessa: Lior wins Hanukkah!

Evelyn: OK, one stereotypical thing for me was the donut shop being called “Goldberg’s” like… OK.

Shevy: I mean it’s fine, that’s a Jewish bake shop.

Lior: There’s a Jewish deli here called Goldberg’s that’s really good.

Evelyn: I just felt like if they’re going to pick a Jewish name, be a little more creative.

Molly: The names were not creative. Rachel, Adam, Zach, Noah… Thank goodness for Bex.

Shevy: Shoshana! C’mon, that was more out there. The nosy woman in line was a little stereotypical. But not too bad.

Vanessa: Unfortunately I loved the nosy woman in line.

Lior: I love a Jewish lady in cat eye glasses.

Molly: I at first was annoyed with the nosy woman but then loved the twist when it was revealed she knew the grandma.

Shevy: Which, like, of course she did.

Vanessa: In my mind, she and the grandma used to date.

Molly: Oh yes, I see it.

Lior: I love that for them.

Vanessa: There’s no way the Jewish witchy grandma is not a lesbian, I’m sorry.

Molly: The grandma looked familiar to me. Has she been in anything else?

Evelyn: Queer backstories are so important.

Lior: Maybe they can rekindle their romance and she will never have to spend Hanukkah alone again.

Vanessa: Lior, BEAUTIFUL. We’re giving Hallmark a lot of free tips in this roundtable.

Lior: She can also participate in next year’s art show.

Evelyn: You’re welcome, Hallmark. We should all be credited as creative consultants on next year’s movie.

Molly: I just looked up the grandma and the answer is yes, she was in “Hanukkah on Rye.”

Lior: She’s a good Hallmark Grandma.

Shevy: Oh also I did not like the very bad New York accent for the cousin.

Evelyn: Oh God, me either.

Shevy: It was a Janice from “Friends” impression.

Molly: Yeah no one else in her family talked like that…

Evelyn: You just know that actor came into the audition swinging with accent work and the producers were like “OK, sure.”

Lior: Yeah the cousin’s accents was the weakest part for me.

Vanessa: It felt very unnecessary and out of place.

Lior: I liked that they gave her an actual story and made her into a geek, but the accents were not needed.

Molly: Is it implied that the cousin will be time-looped soon? She needs help.

Lior: Well she got her romance!

Molly: A boyfriend can’t solve everything, Lior. What do you think this is, Hallmark?

Lior: In a Hallmark movie it always does. Haha, jinx.

Evelyn: I want prequels of all the family members getting time-looped.

Vanessa: Yes I MUST see the Shoshana/Bex time loop.

Evelyn: I also must see a Shoshana/Bex time loop.

Vanessa: Who do we think the intended audience for this movie is?

Evelyn: Dare I say it, I think it was for The Jews.

Molly: Well, I’m pretty sure Hallmark’s audience is majority very not Jewish.

Lior: I think it’s a generally enjoyable movie.

Evelyn: Agreed anyone can enjoy it.

Lior: I think it’s for everyone but it’s really really good for the Jews.

Shevy: It’s a really cleverly written movie, that also has great chemistry between leads and just happens to show Jewish life really nicely. I really can’t ask for more.

Molly: I would be very curious to hear what a non-Jew thinks!

Vanessa: Would you recommend this movie?

Lior: Yes, definitely.

Molly: I am ready to watch this movie at least two more times this week.

Evelyn: For sure!

Lior: Same.

Evelyn: It should move to Netflix tbh.

Vanessa: Yeah my only complaint is it feels hard to find. My mom asked how she could watch it and I didn’t know the answer (my wife is in charge of How We Watch TV).

Lior: I have already watched it three times.

Molly: I will say, my mom didn’t like it. Mainly because Rachel’s hair “looked bad.”

Shevy: Her hair is not great.

Molly: Which is ironic because the whole time watching it I was thinking: Should I get that haircut?

Lior: Her hair didn’t bother me.

Vanessa: Rachel’s hair: polarizing.

Evelyn: It just needed some volume.

Shevy: As a fellow thin haired person myself I get it.

Evelyn: LOL what if the change Rachel had to make to get unstuck was get a haircut?

Vanessa: Then it would be a Gay Jewish Movie.

Molly: She did just go through a breakup…

Vanessa: She needs bangs.

Molly: Rachel is definitely someone who is constantly thinking: Should I get bangs?

Lior: Omg yes a total type.

Molly: But is too indecisive to go for it.

Shevy: Haha, yes Molly.

Molly: Though maybe now she will. With Zach’s encouragement.

Vanessa: Beautiful!!! Bangs and a boyfriend — what more could a girl want on the 7th night of Hanukkah?

Lior: World peace.

Molly: That moment where he reveals the drawing he did of her protagonist? I was touched!

Evelyn: Men who can draw are very hot also.

Molly: Beautiful hands, I hear.

Lior: Yesss coming in strong with the fan art.

Vanessa: The most unrealistic part of the film was nothing about Jewish representation for me, it was that Zach has no flaws.

Molly: I think a “flaw” of Zach’s was supposed to be that he also wasn’t necessarily pursuing his dreams of being an illustrator.

Evelyn: But now that Zach and Rachel are together, maybe she’ll push him to do that!

Lior: Now they can encourage each other to pursue their dreams.

Molly: He’s going to illustrate her books, obviously. To me the most unrealistic part of the film was that she was able to work on revisions of her entire novel in one day.

Lior: Yes, that is not realistic.

Shevy: Also, reminder: those revisions are gone. Because, time loop.

Evelyn: I just thought of that.

Molly: Oh, heartbreaking.

Evelyn: I would give up.

Molly: This is a tragedy, not a romantic comedy.

Vanessa: On that note… Does anyone have anything to add? Or should we give this 5/5 stars and wrap up?

Shevy: They knocked it out of the park. Don’t know how they will ever top this one.

Molly: 5/5 Jewish stars! Kol hakavod, Hallmark.

Lior: Yes, gimel all the way, a winner.

Molly: Can I keep making my round and roundtable discussion joke?

Shevy: I think you just did, Molly.

Photo via Hallmark Channel

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