Oldie but Goodie
I reached back in time this season to re-watch a 2018 Christmas movie that I really enjoyed but didn’t review. This stars my favorite leading man, Kristoffer Polaha, and Ashley Newbrough, not a favorite but very good. I have no problems with her.
Ashley plays a successful author who is booked to do some events in the small town on which she based her best-selling book. A few years ago she was great friends with a co-worker who used to regale her with stories set in his hometown. On the verge of becoming romantically involved, he ghosted her, leaving her alone in a restaurant waiting for him to show up for their first real date. She called and texted over and over but he never replied and has never been in touch. She is nervous about visiting his home town and she has a right to be because not only is he living there but he owns the quirky local bookstore and is the liaison organizing the promotional events for her new book.
He is thrilled to see her again, basically acting like nothing happened and he did nothing wrong. He is now the guardian of his niece, the adorable Bailey Skodje. It turns out that on the night of their date he received word that his sister and her husband were killed in an auto accident. Now that is pretty awful and tragic, but it still is no excuse for his behavior of disappearing off the face of the earth without a word. But Ashley is forgiving considering the circumstances and they proceed to fall back in love.
The secondary plot is that of a property developer that Ashley got friendly with wanting to “revitalize” the town. Sound good, but when he wants all of the shop owners to sell their stores to him for obscene amounts of money, Kris gets suspicious. He refuses to sell until he learns that the whole deal is kaput unless the developer can buy all the businesses including his. So in the name of helping his friends and colleagues who need the money, he agrees reluctantly to sell. Imagine the shock when they find out, thanks to Ashley, that instead of revitalizing the town, he wants to demolish it and put up a big resort! What is a lying sneaky snake! And he seemed so nice! What is refreshing about this, is that the money men like the little town just the way it is. And his petard is hoisted. The rich investors are even going to invest in the town as is while keeping its charming picturesque feel. Towards the end, Ashley finds out that Kris actually wrote her a letter explaining what happened in his life, but he sent it to their old workplace and by that time she had already quit so she never got it. So he had been wondering why she never replied to him. Still no excuse for no phone call or quick text reply, but whatever. The mystery of his behavior which had been an ongoing puzzle is finally solved.
Kristoffer Polaha is such a charmer in this. He is full of energy and his acting was nuanced, low-key, and natural as always. He adds thoughtful touches to his delivery. For example towards the end when he was very turned off by Brad and his slick behavior, he started saying his name like he was saying “Yuck”. Bra-a-d (grimace, cringe-but subtle!) He plays such a sweet guy in this that it made it very funny somehow. I also liked that though he disliked and was jealous of Brad, he just studiously ignored him rather than acting all pouty and hostile. His chemistry with Ashley Newbrough was terrific. Although, in my view, it’s Kristoffer Polaha so he probably would have chemistry with a bag of doorknobs. This one is 4 years old, but it will play again at least one more time before Christmas is over. I highly recommend you check it out if you have the time.