A sure way to find Christmas love is to get on a plane bound for the northeast. You’re all but guaranteed to find yourself stranded in a snowstorm with a seatmate of your dreams. At least that’s what the movies teach us. Stephanie (Mayim Bialik) and Michael (Ryan McPartlin) are both overworked Angelenos en route to Connecticut when bad weather grounds them in Bozeman, Montana. She is running away from another failed relationship, one that has left her alone and without a place to stay for the holidays, while he is about to propose to his long-term and long-distance girlfriend. After a rough start, the two find themselves sharing the one remaining hotel room in town and bonding over their tenuous romantic states.
Flight tries with little luck to add something unique to a tired storyline. There are superficial differences, the most prominent being the casting of significant black characters. Then again, this is a Lifetime movie, so maybe they do things differently from their friends at Hallmark. Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton play Joe and Marie, a couple who own the hotel and act as cheerleaders and life coaches for their young guests. They see what Stephanie and Michael can’t or don’t want to – that the two are really looking for each other.
But there are some things that no amount of country dances and flapjacks doused in syrup can fix. The young non-couple are just not all that interesting despite efforts to make them seem relatable. Stephanie is a woman of independent means, a strong personality, which is really code for a single, emotionally isolated thirtysomething who is desperate for a real, exuberant kind of love. Michael is the boyfriend women think they want. A dedicated partner willing to go the extra mile to make a relationship work – he flies cross-country once a month to see his Boston-based girlfriend, he nevertheless finds little fire in romance.
There are snatches of soul-searching conversations that a viewer might relate to, but this is the film where I object to the fact that all problems are solved in one festive go. Relationships are both made and broken in a matter of days thereby negating any effort at emotional complexity. The tough, lingering questions about love turn out to be not so tough, which I understand is kind of the point. Who really wants to deal with hard issues of the heart when you can sing carols, sip eggnog, or kiss under the mistletoe? So I guess I’ll leave The Flight Before Christmas as it is and move on to a higher quality of movie to review.
Prod: Jeffrey Schenck, Brian Nolan, Barry Barnholz
Dir: Peter Sullivan
Writer: Jennifer Notas Shapiro
Cast: Mayim Bialik, Ryan McPartlin, Reginald VelJohnson, Jo Marie Payton
Time: 84 min
Country: United States