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’ll show up to watch Melissa Joan Hart read the phone book. She won my heart and eternal loyalty with two of her early Hallmark movies: My Fake Fiancé and Holiday in Handcuffs. This one isn’t close to ranking with those, but it had enough positives to keep me interested in a film that was mostly by the book as far as the principal romance was concerned. Her love interest was very attractive, but the chemistry just wasn’t there. That is deadly for a TV Christmas movie. However, the cast had some good secondary stars. Markie Post was reliable as usual. it’s hard to believe she is almost 70 years old. Happy Birthday, Markie, by the way. The actress who played her sister fascinated with her bordering on insane grin and perkiness. They were named Tay and Kay. That was odd. Ted McGinley did a great job as a scruffy has-been silver medalist skier. Loved the Americanized Indian daughter and traditional grandmother story. But I thought her love interest was miscast. I love nerds, but… well, let’s just say she could do much much better. Michael Gross was unexceptional. He was OK. There were some nice touches that added value: The back story of the Inn, the placards that introduced each “chapter,” and the wrap up of all the stories was nicely done, with a bit of humor. Of course, as always, the sets looked like a Christmas bomb went off, but that’s OK. I love to laugh at those crazy decorations.
I love Melissa Joan Hart, I really do. But this Christmas offering is pretty dull. Our heroine is competing with our hero (Dean Cain) for the co-host chair on Regis and Kathie Lee. No. Regis and Kelly. No. Kelly and Michael. No. In this movie it is called Rise and Shine. They are former lovers and co-workers. Melissa broke up with Dean because he was chosen over her for a big promotion 6 years prior, and she was just so embarrassed about that. Melissa looks young enough still to pass as an under 35 broadcaster on her way up. But Dean Cain, at 50, just looks absurd trying to play the role of a person of approximately the same age. At one point he pleads with influential Dad at the dinner table that he wants to earn the National spot on his own without Daddy interfering. Grow Up, Superman!
Melissa was great as usual. Her rant on live TV when she promotes herself, a virtual unknown, for the Network morning show is funny and entertaining. And her charm and naturalness in trying out for the job would have won her the opportunity immediately in real life over the 3 no-talents she is competing against. There’s a big reveal at the end, which you see coming a mile away, which really does Dean Cain no favors in making his role believable or sympathetic. I enjoyed Jackee Harry’s work in this, and am glad to see Cynthia Gibb still working despite playing her own age. Holy Cow! I just realized that that was Richard Kline playing Melissa’s Dad. Totally did not recognize him! **6 Stars out of 10**