I wavered between a 7 and an 8 for this one. I liked the trappings and the framing of the story but the basic plot of strangers coming together to repair what is wrong with their lives was tired. None of their arcs had a lot of substance or originality. Or, failing substance, humor, suspense, drama, or engaging romance. On the positive side, it did have Brooke D’Orsay and Ryan Paevey as the main couple. Their performances were charming as usual. I like them separately, and they were OK together, but just OK. Maybe they are both just too nice to generate much romantic tension with each other.
It all starts out with a little girl and her father reading a fairy story about a magical town called Wunderbrook. Sadly the Dad dies and the little girl and her mother move away. Before she goes, she gives her storybook to her best friend Anderson and she promises to send him her stories as she writes them.
When next we see her, she owns a bookstore. Her aspirations to be an author have died on the vine due to her lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. Meanwhile, we catch up on her childhood friend Anderson who is now a surgeon who is questioning his calling due to losing a patient. We also meet a married couple who have grown apart and are on the verge of divorce and an old man who is very lonely since his beloved wife died.
Through various magical means (a detour on a road, a wrong number, getting lost, and a flooded basement) they find themselves together in Wunderbrook. It is the magical town of the storybook come to life. It turns out that they all had the book as children, but for some reason, it is only Brooke that starts to make the connection between the story and the real-life town they find themselves in. She is poopoo-ed throughout the whole movie, almost. As they spend time with the owners of the B&B and their daughter (really the King, Queen, and Princess), and the other denizens of the place, including the wicked witch, they start to get cured of what ails them. The hostile bickering couple starts to repair their marriage and the old man finds a friend in the owner of the bar/restaurant who is also bitter and lonely (the witch.) The two childhood friends start to fall in love as well as, in the end, get over the fears that are holding them back from fulfilling their dreams. It all comes together at the end with not only our friends on a happy road to love and success but Wunderbrook itself being saved, thanks to a certain aspiring writer.
Their individual stories of love and learning are told by a storyteller as if they were characters in a storybook. This was a new path for Hallmark to take and I liked and appreciated the creativity. Christmas Magic is a common trope but usually has to do with Santa and time travel. This was something quite different and, again, I appreciated it. Unfortunately, they forgot to find engaging stories to put in all that creative framing. It was, to paraphrase one of Brooke’s publisher’s rejections, “cute” but not entirely enough for me.