This one fell flat primarily because I already knew the plot from watching the companion movie a week ago. There were a few elements added that we were not aware of and some more details, but they were not enough to save this for me. In fact, it made it worse. I really thought the Ashley character was way out of line as she tried to take over her sister’s successful, smart, and sophisticated restaurant and proceeded to make it over the way she thought it should be. She just steam-rolled over everybody with the small town homey vibe she wanted to project. Some of her ideas worked out, but that wasn’t the point. She was a loose cannon. Because of the first movie, I knew a crisis was coming and I couldn’t wait for Kimberly to yell at her.
The other reason was that I am just so tired of Ashley Williams, and I take no pleasure in saying that. I used to think she was a breath of fresh air. But now she comes across like a manic-depressive without the depressive. I really wanted the depressive. A few times she stopped smiling and bouncing off the walls but the respite didn’t last long enough. It’s probably not about her as a personality and actress but the parts she has been cast in lately. She needs to play a serial killer or something. Actually, she probably would be good at that. Especially if was one of those clown ones.
This is the first of a two-parter which will conclude next Sunday with Sister Swap: Christmas in the City. Presumably, we will be treated to the antics of Ashley Williams who was running her sister Kimberley’s restaurant while Kimberley was having her own adventure in their hometown. It was a good idea to have the real-life sisters in the same movie as they are both very popular. They were both a little frantic and over-caffeinated in this, but at least Ashley, whose smiley perkiness is almost legendary, was off-stage through much of the story.
Kimberley, a widow and busy restaurateur with a teenage son returns to her hometown for Christmas for a short visit. The family movie theatre is being sold, and she gets involved with providing one last movie night for her family which turns out to be for the whole town. I won’t go into it much, but I was initially very confused over who dead Uncle Dave was, who her parents were, was the guy in the wheelchair her father or her grandfather, Was Uncle Dave the husband of the older lady, who were Nan and Pop, etc. This was probably my fault for not paying better attention at the beginning? I did get it straight pretty quickly, but it was a distraction.
I thought this one was pretty decent with a plot that seemed to hang together pretty well, with a believable solution to the problem of saving the vintage theatre from a modern renovation or worse. The resolution will provide a reasonable foundation for the story to move forward in part 2 unless part 2 will be solely contemporaneous with part 1. I appreciated that the corporate overlords were not portrayed as evil or unreasonable, and the sisters did not overdo the sacrifice the future to “save the past at all costs” mentality that is so prevalent in these things. I have always liked Kimberley Williams and the romance with her old school friend provided the main appeal for me. This was largely due to the actor who played him. He was very attractive and charismatic, I thought. He reminded me of the old-time movie star, Richard Egan. I also appreciated the character of her teenaged son as well as the actor who played him. He provided some calm balance and sense.
I don’t have as high hopes for the sequel because Ashley Williams, although once a favorite, has worn out her welcome with me over the years. I remain open and hopeful but the second part with her taking the lead could be a little too much for me to take. Stay tuned.
A lower-tier Hall of Fame-caliber movie, but Hall of Fame worthy nonetheless. The cast was strong and the main actors were well known and respected. Dermot Mulroney and Kimberly Williams Paisley made an attractive and likable couple. I personally find Danny Glover incredibly annoying, but I love Joan Cusack and enjoyed her role in this movie. The setting on the train to California? I loved it, but I’m prejudiced. I was lucky enough as a teen to travel from Chicago to Los Angeles on the El Capitan and The City of Los Angeles and back again during the Christmas Season. The plot was OK and benefited from being based on a David Baldacci book. The twist at the end really saved the story, though. After reading another reviewer’s comparison to the book, I really am considering reading the book upon which this was based.
Reviewing Hallmark Christmas movies is kind of a stupid hobby of mine, and I like to review the dreadful ones and the enjoyable ones or if I think I have something valuable to point out. I am jotting down a little review of this one because it’s a cut above the usual. **8 out of 10**