I do think that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately it’s also the time of the year that invites a deluge of sappy TV movies, which is decidedly un-wonderful. This one falls in that wide chasm of tolerable but wholly insignificant movies that you can watch or not watch, depending on how much ironing you have to do. (I only mean that I, like others I know, watch a lot of mindless television whilst engaging in stationary chores.)
You can take it if you like Henry Winkler and want to see how retirement Fonzie might have turned out, or you can leave it if you have a snappier movie on schedule. The Fonz ends up being the main drawing point for me anyway as Uncle Ralph, a loving but no nonsense New York City police officer who’s just left the force and decides to spend the holidays with his niece Jennifer (Brooke Burns) and her son. The tough guy is averse to flying though and gets a little shaky on his flight over, but super-nice Morgan (Warren Christie) is there to help out. When his connection gets cancelled, Ralph asks him to stay at Jennifer’s.
Loyal Hallmark viewers can predict the fireworks that will erupt from that scenario. Jennifer is engaged to a businessman, which is code for jerk in these kinds of movies, and doesn’t have the time or energy to play host to an itinerant thirty year old who thinks he’s past his prime. She’s lost the Christmas spirit plus she’s preoccupied with figuring out how to roast a turkey in order to impress her future in-laws. It’s clear to Ralph and everyone else who Jennifer really needs in her life, and the choice is made easier by the fact that Morgan loves the holidays and is a chef whose specialty is turkeys.
You couldn’t have written it better. Really, there’s only so much you can do with a script like this. The acting is fair; at least it doesn’t detract. But no one, Winkler excepting, stands out, and he only does by sheer force of his stereotypical character. Morgan gets demerits for whining about turning thirty, thus sending eyes everywhere a’rolling. The movie does have its share of laughs though and enough touching moments to tie the package together, so open at your discretion.
Prod: Harvey Kahn
Dir: Michael Scott
Writer: Bruce Graham
Cast: Henry Winkler, Brooke Burns, Warren Christie, Connor Levins, Woody Jeffreys
Time: 87 min
Country: United States