For a touch of holiday magic, check out Christmas Under Wraps starring Candace Cameron Bure as a big city doctor who ends up in tiny Garland, Alaska. It’s your typical fish out of water story, one that filmmakers have livened up with tinsel and twinkling stars. I’d put this one in the top half of Hallmark’s relentless 2014 Christmas movie campaign though that doesn’t exactly count as a hearty recommendation. But the movie’s pleasant, even if it’s not a stunner, and everyone’s likable making for stress-free viewing.
There’s a little bit of a prima donna in Bure’s character, Lauren, at first, if only to justify the transformative experience she has away from the city lights. She reluctantly leaves San Francisco for a position as Garland’s town doctor while still keeping an eye on a prestigious fellowship in Boston. You know she’s going to have a rough time adjusting because she can’t get her soy latte with nonfat milk and organic sweetener at the local cafe. She also refuses to wear flannel.
But she adjusts, rather accepts, her situation. Part of the reason is because she sees her immediate impact on the residents, who have gone without a doctor for a year. For that, she’s welcomed like the town rock star. The other reason is Andy (David O’Donnell), the cute handyman. He’s the son of Frank Holliday (Brian Doyle-Murray), owner of Holliday shipping and Santa Claus doppelganger.
Even if Lauren is warming up to the people and the town, and Andy, she doesn’t imagine herself staying any longer than necessary. But she soon gets drawn into a mystery that everyone’s trying to keep secret from her. Actually, that makes the story sound more tantalizing than it is. Instead, I should say that there’s something unique about Garland that anyone can guess after five minutes, or by reading Hallmark’s description. This gets played well though with a few cheeky winks that never overtake the story.
Nor does the romance between Lauren and Andy get too much emphasis. In fact, it’s quite restrained for this type of movie both in the telling and the acting, and that ends up making it all the more bearable. There are a few platitudes about following your heart; the couple have minor arguments with their parents about what direction to go in life, but that’s not really the takeaway. What you really need to know is that it’s a bit of fun, there’s a touch of romance, and it goes down well with a plate of cookies and a warm mug of hot chocolate.
Prod: Barry Barnholtz, Candace Cameron Bure
Dir: Peter Sullivan
Writer: Jennifer Notas
Cast: Candace Cameron Bure, David O’Donnell, Robert Pine, Kendra Mylnechuk, Brian Doyle-Murray, Joyce Cohen, James Gaisford, Page Petrucka, Anita Rice
Time: 84 min
Country: United States