A New Hallmark Movie Has Us Spinning ‘Round and Round’
Poet Robert Frost once wrote, “The best way out is always through.” Meaning that people should find ways to directly deal with obstacles in their lives, rather than avoid them. And that’s exactly the journey that Rachel Landau is on in Round and Round, Hallmark Channel’s latest Hanukkah movie, now available on streaming.
The film’s premise is a bit wacky, and yet familiar. But if you are willing to suspend your disbelief, you are in for some Hanukkah fun and joy.
Rachel (played by actor and comedian Vic Michaelis) is an aspiring writer feeling trapped in both her life and her job as an assistant editor at a publishing house. She finds herself even more stuck when she gets trapped in a time loop on the seventh night of the holiday after spinning her Grandma Rosie’s dreidel—a cherished family heirloom. Rachel must relive the night of her parents’ Hanukkah party over and over—unless she unravels the mystery of her predicament and figures out how to break free from the cycle.
While she’s untangling that mystery, she slowly starts falling for Zach Rubin—Bryan Greenberg, from One Tree Hill and The Mindy Project—the nice Jewish guy her grandmother has been eager to match her up with. Zach is an art teacher who has been giving lessons to Rosie at a senior center. Impressed with him and his kindness, Rosie invites him to the family festivities.
Rachel and Zach have their meet-cute over flying sufganiyot. A collision of fates happens right after she leaves Goldberg’s, a Jewish deli and bake shop, where Rachel, who had just purchased jelly doughnuts to take to the party, bumps into Zach, sending the newly purchased treats soaring.
The charming time-travel rom com blends elements from the classic comedy Groundhog Day with several twists. First, Rachel confides in Zach, turning to him for help in breaking the cycle. Second, the film beautifully incorporates Jewish traditions, featuring moments of candle lighting, latkes, dreidels and arrays of doughnuts.
In the midst of ongoing worries about the rise of antisemitism worldwide, sitting back and watching this simple distraction for almost 90 minutes was lovely—a much needed escape. However, reality is never far away.
I glanced for a moment at Greenberg’s X feed while watching the film and felt his words deeply: “Hannakah [sic] hits different this year,” he had posted last week, next to an emoji of a menorah and a Jewish star.
Yet the film satisfies that need for Jewish connection over the holiday, gracefully incorporates lovely details, such as when characters shares insight into an element of Judaism or throws in a tiny bit of Yiddish. For example, during the party, Rachel’s father, Stan (Rick Hoffman, who starred in the popular USA Network series Suits), talks about his 36th wedding anniversary and how the double chai is a lucky number meaning “life.”
That party on the seventh night is a family tradition because, as Rachel tells us in the opening scene, “My parents’ love story began on the seventh night of Hanukkah in 1986.” Her mother and father, after meeting in a club where her mother was the DJ, spent the entire night together, ending the evening eating doughnuts at Goldberg’s.
And every scene with Grandma Rosie, played by the vibrant veteran actor Paula Shaw, is pure magic. Who wouldn’t want their bubbe trying to fix them up?
And yet the moments that most touched me were the simple family scenes, when the Landaus light the Hanukkah candles, recite the prayer, give out presents and play a dreidel game. For any viewer missing family during the holiday, these scenes will resonate.
Round and Round as well as Hallmark’s other Jewish-themed Hanukkah movies (Hannukah on Rye, Double Holiday and Love, Lights, Hanukkah!) can be seen on the Hallmark app as well as streaming on Peacock.
Susan L. Hornik is a veteran entertainment and lifestyle journalist.