Melissa Joan has starred in some of my favorite Hallmark type movies. This one wasn’t bad, but it is not going down as a favorite. The main appeal of this one was the pairing with Jason Priestly. They made a good match, and his character was appealing. On the negative side, there wasn’t much to the plot. She is driving home for Christmas, when, near her destination, she has a flat tire. She is rescued by “Mr. Christmas” who looks vaguely familiar. She keeps meeting him and they like each other. Like like. He tells her that they were in 8th grade together but she still doesn’t remember him. She finally remembers him when she finds her childhood diary and finds out he was a big crush of hers.
Melissa shines in playing goofy quirky, somewhat hapless characters and the script did not take advantage of her comic talents. But maybe she’s getting a little too “mature” for anything other than stock Hallmark heroines with no personality other than being nice and pleasant. The hook on this story was disappointing. It is unbelievable that the character would not remember an 8th grade crush. Even if he was one in a very lo-o-o-o-o-n-g line. I’ll say no more on that. Something more could have been made of discovering him as being an entry in a diary. Other than he was one of her many crushes and she drew stars around his name. Did not seem to be a firm foundation on which to decide to commit to marriage. Maybe a special memory triggered? But she would have remembered him! Or maybe the got hit on the head trope could have figured in here some where. Oh well. I give up.
I don’t like Santa Claus movies in general, but this one was a winner. Hilarie Burton was particularly appealing and sympathetic as the feisty no nonsense Annie who is eventually won over by the shy, fish-out-of- water stable-master, John. Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. Claus, was a hoot. Clearly the brains of the operation, She was the ruthless mob boss, willing to send her minions to steal a little girl’s pet reindeer so millions of little children aren’t disappointed on Christmas morning. Yes kids, sometimes the end does justify the means. Lots of laughs, a poor single mother trying to save her farm from evil big business, a sweet little romance. and some charming fantasy. Overlook the forced conflict between the two lovebirds, and the questionable ethical issues, and you’ll have a good time with this one. **9 out of 10 stars**
This Hallmark non-holiday romance has all of the prerequisite Hallmark clichés: Stuffy boyfriend, quirky true-love, visit to well off but mean parents, heroine caught in the wrong career, and troubled sister. It manages to overcome them all, thanks to the whimsical charm of Paul Campbell as Quigley, and Tim Conway as the grandfather pretending to have dementia in order to escape being drawn into the various family dramas. The redemption of her parents is well done and accomplished with a slinky and a Twinkie cake. The secondary romance of the sister, played by Leanne Lapp, and her next-door neighbor and son of the Mother’s nemesis is a nice touch. The sister was tons more likable and interesting than the primary heroine and actually is more compatible with her love interest. But a match-up between them would not have provided the necessary “opposites attract” dynamic and her eventual character arc where she has her epiphany regarding her love life and her career. **8 out of 10 Stars**