Is Hallmark Growing Up?
This one had an interesting dynamic and not in the usual Hallmark playbook of magic Santas, country good/city bad, save the town/store/festival, and countless others too many to mention.
A mother finds herself at her ex-husband’s girlfriend’s estate at Christmas locked in a competition with the girlfriend for her two daughters’ attention . I’ll let that sink in. The slightly estranged brother of the girlfriend shows up uninvited and Mom and brother are attracted to each other. The mother and ex-husband are on good terms. The girlfriend, who invited Mom when she found out that Mom had never been away from her kids at Christmas, is not evil. She is really nice and loves the kids and the ex-husband.
So where’s the conflict and drama? That’s the thing. There wasn’t much. They are all just so nice. The girlfriend, anxious to please and trying too hard, overschedules the kids leaving no time for Mom and her daughters’ own Christmas traditions. Mom starts feeling like a third wheel at the Kate, Jeff, and Daughters’ Show. The brother feeds in to her insecurity and starts wresting the girls attention away from Kate and towards Mom with a variety of activities that aren’t on Kate’s itinerary. Now Kate’s feelings are hurt. But he means well (really). He has a complicated relationship with his sister.
The big crisis is when the oldest daughter runs away when Dad proposes to the girlfriend at dinner without warning. Bad move, Dude. Mom to the rescue, straight out of a romantic hot tub event with the brother. But ex-husband takes ownership of his thoughtless faux pas, girlfriend Kate smooths things over, and all is well.
There is a lot more going on, of course, involving a possible career move by the brother and family complications.
It was well acted by all, although I thought the ex-husband was a bit miscast. The klutzy Mom (spoiler alert) even manages NOT to break the stepmother’s hand blown Venetian ornament. Yes, there is a stepmother. But she’s nice too! There was some good physical comedy involving the Mom’s klutziness. And good for Hallmark for not basing a Christmas romance on silliness and shenanigans, but the authentic emotion and complicated feelings involved in the formation of new family ties and big change.
July 11, 2021
Nothing to See Here.
This is a very bland story with no real conflict. There are no villains that are fun to root against. Not even a somewhat jerk of a current fiancé that our hero has to compete against. The two leads are likable and it is nice to see Patrick Duffy again. There is nothing spectacularly stupid that happens here (so no joy there, either!). Just a young doctor who decides she prefers a slow-paced small town practice to the fast-paced big city hospital. No mystery, no big reveals, no tough decisions, no struggles, no humor. And the small-town setting vs. The big city has been done to death. It is Christmassy, though. Lots of decorations.**4 stars out of 10**
July 28, 2017
Strong Ending Redeems a Lackluster Tale
***Huge spoilers****Unlike many, I am not a huge Candace Cameron Bure fan. I find her competent. The first ¾ of this movie left me rather cold, despite the wonder and mystery provided by the great concept of a miraculous Christmas comet. The main character, Hanna, was just a too-sweet cardboard cutout. However, the time travel gimmick usually delivers stories that keep me engaged or at least semi-engaged, and this one was no exception. I did roll my eyes at the irrational behavior and attitudes of some of the townspeople and the police. Why all the hate and suspicion of nefarious motives on the part of the police chief, Her primary supporter, Jake’s partner, and the town busybody? The conflict was too manufactured and not rational. When Hanna, fresh from segregated 1945, is examined by the black doctor, and interrogated by the black chief of police, why no surprise or incredulity? They missed a great opportunity to add a little depth to the story there, and it would have taken all of 20 seconds. Her one champion, Jake, a policeman, was nicely played by Oliver Hudson. Sarah, Jake’s partner, was foreshadowed to be the love interest, but for most of the movie, her cynicism and unfounded suspicions made her very unlikeable.
The last ¼ of the show is more than redeemed by the appearance of the Tom Skerrit character. Now an aged and respected figure whose life was changed by Hanna by her kindness to him when he was a little boy, he validates her story. He leads the way to finding a solution to her predicament of which life to lead. Previously unknown ties between Hanna of 1945 and Hanna of 2016 are uncovered. The doubters are proved wrong and they are even a bit redeemed in the process. Both Hanna and the understanding cop, the two leads, find their happy endings, though hers was cheesy to the max. Oh well. Sometimes cheese is the way to go.
Everything was tied together beautifully. The last quarter of the film had me in tears. It was that good. I don’t think I have ever seen a Hallmark movie that went from “blah” to stellar with such whiplash speed!**8 out of 10 stars**
December 4, 2016