Aly Michalka plays a real estate developer with hopes of being able to use her architectural skills who comes to a small picturesque beach town in order to buy the land for her employer to build a beach resort. This one does not vary from the usual template one iota.
Aly was attractive enough but most of her performance was flat and unengaged. She did show some signs of life later in the movie, but for most of it, she acted like she didn’t really want to be there. Not that I blame her, but for goodness sake, suck it up. If you didn’t want the part, you shouldn’t have taken it. Chad Michael Murray played his usual scruffy relaxed self, but I did not like his character. The little town had been devastated by a storm a year earlier and tourism is way off and sorely needs the resort. The storm also decimated his families’ pier which he seems to think is equivalent in importance to the town as The Statue of Liberty is to America. He is seriously obsessed with it and frankly, I didn’t see any signs the town could care any less. He won’t sell the land unless they buy the pier as well. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense. It seems like he would want to keep the pier, but oh well. Poor Aly is being torn in all directions. By Chad, who wants the beach resort built on another plot of land “a short bike ride away from the beach” and her boss, who only wants to build her beach resort on the beach and tear down the bedraggled unsightly pier. Oh lord.
It will be no surprise that a festival is threatened but saved. Only they call it a Jamboree. The development company decides to just forget it and pick another site in another state and I don’t blame them. Screw CMM and his arrogant attitude trying to dictate terms to a company that wants to save the town and make him a millionaire. Well, you’ll never guess how this is resolved. Chad’s Nana talks some sense into him now that it’s probably too late and he decides that he needs to move forward rather than clinging to the past and sell the beach without the pier. But meanwhile, Aly conceives the brilliant solution of her company rebuilding the pier instead of tearing it down!!!! What a Concept!!!! Apparently, her plan is so world-shatteringly brilliant that her boss goes along with it. But we never get to see the final product even on paper.
The only other thing I want to comment on is casting the gorgeous 66-year-old Glynnis O’Connor as 40-year-old CMM’s Grandmother A.K.A “Nana”. I mean, do the math. No wonder they had his just retired parents (who were the legal owners of the beach and pier, BTW) out of sight on a cruise to the Bahamas.
Workaholic Danielle ( Can we get a Hallmark heroine who is kinda lazy just one time?) is taking her son home for Christmas to experience the holiday the way she did when she was a child with all of the bells and whistles, including the town’s famous holiday train. At the last minute, her boss lays a project on her that she can work on through her vacation. She briefly stands up to him but when he frowns at her, she caves. When will we have a female employee who is a shining star for the company not give up her power and submit to the boss’s unreasonable demands? In this case though, she is not struggling with the project throughout the movie casting a pall on the family time and celebrations. She pretty much knocks out the project right away and we move on to the important stuff. How refreshing!
Dani is as energetic at home as she is at work and when she learns the Holiday Train which her late Dad took the lead on for the town is kaput, she is determined to set it back on track (no pun intended). To that end, she gets together with Chad Michael Murray who repairs her Dad’s Lionel train she found in the attic. He is a train enthusiast as well as a hobby shop owner. CMM is as lazy and disorganized as Dani is efficient and hardworking. He’s also a little grumpy and a slob. (“Sorry, It’s the maid’s day off.” “Are you sure she isn’t hiding under all that stuff?”) His business is suffering (surprise surprise) possibly because he leaves his store open with no one on the floor while he is in the back room repairing stuff with headphones on so he can’t hear if he has any customers who might would want to buy something but more likely just steal it and he would never know the difference. But opposites attract. Danielle whips his business into shape in no time with a website and a human presence minding the store. CMM embarks on restoring the holiday train and romance ensues, despite some competition from the frisky flower shop owner next door.
Cindy was well cast as the peppy smiley Dani and I liked the pairing with laidback CMM who can do “scruffy” like nobody’s business. Cindy looked great as did the actress who played her Mom who had a little promise of a romance of her own. The Lionel train aspect was interesting. I love trains. Also, I loved Danielle’s house, which looked like a real home in a real neighborhood.
I have never been a fan of Jessica Lowndes with her Valleygirl/Kardasian inflection and her eyeliner. But she has really really improved. So much so that she is the main attraction in this very watchable movie. Her acting is very good and I can’t always say that this has been the case. Her beauty has been indisputable but kind of unapproachable. She has scaled down the make up which has allowed her natural beauty to shine through. Well Done! Now to work on that unfortunate southern California accent. I hope she doesn’t regress.
Hayley is forced to spend Christmas vacation with her sister’s brother-in-law, whom she blames for her break-up with her ex. Her chemistry with the messily coifed Chad Michael Murray was palpable. I just wish they had tamed those locks a bit at least for the gala.
This was pretty darn good with most of the Hallmark/Lifetime set pieces avoided or toned down. Not a stand out, but I liked most of it and it had very few if any cringe-y moments.
Some Top-Notch Actors and Love Actually-type Intertwining Keep this one Enjoyable
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’m not a fan of Torrey DeVitto. At least in this one. She was the one sour note in this generally pleasant interest-holding offering. Chad Michael Murray was wonderful: personal charisma and a good actor. The 5 or 6 separate stories kept my attention. I liked them all enough to not skip through to the end. So that’s worth at least a 5 or 6. CM-M, Lolita Davidovitch, and the young man who played Carter were enough to add on two extra stars.
Very pleasant. Nothing super special, but nothing to make you want to throw your remote at the TV set either. The acting was definitely above average by Jessy and Chad Michael Murray. I like the actress who played the mother, Teryl Rothery. She is in many Hallmark films and always very reliable. I liked the plot with the three adopted Brothers finally reunited as a surprise for Christmas. It added an emotional Depth that’s been missing in many of these Hallmark Christmas stories. I love the graphics that showed the journeys of the two protagonists! One normally does not see such creativity and cuteness in a Hallmark movie. It took me by surprise.
One final comment that I hope isn’t too mean but just needs to be said. Jessy Schram has lost way too much weight and looks a good bit worse for wear. If she’s been sick I hope she gets better soon because she really is a top-notch Hallmark actress.**7 out of 10 stars**