Well, here we go. It’s 15 days until Christmas, and I’ve put off my traditional Hallmark Channel blitzkrieg long enough. Time to get to work and power through this annual parade of cheap holiday feels for no other reason than to write about movies. If I sound like I’ve got a little bit of bah-humbug in me, then I’m in good company because Kate Harper (Lori Loughlin) has really got it bad. Though she’s not exactly a scrooge, the national television personality is no fan of Christmas and would rather spend it on the beaches of Hawaii. When a hot mike incident exposes her secret, the country erupts in protest, threatening boycotts and calling for her show to be cancelled.
Yes, that’s right. America is up in arms because a woman doesn’t like Christmas. This is one of those stories wherein holiday grump finds the true meaning of Christmas but there’s a cruel twist. To calm the furor, the head of the network, a strong black woman (Catherine Lough Haggquist) (I see what you did, Hallmark), sends her to Hollyvale, North Dakota where she’s expected to file daily reports about Christmas and her newfound love for it. Basically, the story is premised on the public shaming and forced atonement of a woman for holding an unpopular opinion. No one seems to care that Kate has dad issues; she gets letters in the mail that she leaves unopened and is clearly and rightly guarded about her personal life. No, the important thing is that everyone should love the fuzzy holiday feel and those who don’t be damned.
There’s no fighting that injustice though. Anyway, we seem to be living in unreasonable times, and the real point of the movie is forgiveness and love, and Christmas trees. Accompanying Kate is her producer and college boyfriend, Jack (Colin Ferguson), who’s also not too pleased to give up his vacation and be tethered to the woman who broke his heart. Though things get off to a slippery start, a reconciliation is in the works because that’s just what happens when you’re packed off to remote places during the holidays.
When the two arrive in Hollyvale, however, things are curiously normal. Despite billing itself as “the biggest little Christmas town in the country,” the place looks quite ordinary. Kate starts poking around and asks the townspeople about the lull in festivities. She soon suspects something is awry, and it may have something to do with the evasive mayor and a missing Christmas tree.
The conspiracy, if you can call it that, is not quite what you think. This isn’t an evolved murder mystery or anything close, but it tightens the story a little and is a good excuse for a Willy Aames cameo. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s particularly memorable or heartwarming. I resent Jack’s dismissive comment about Kate playing Nancy Drew, but that gets balanced out by supporting black character with authority #2, Sheriff Omar (Omari Newton). Kate’s dad makes a late appearance, but that’s also not enough to make this worth the effort.
Dir: Ron Oliver
Writer: David Golden, Andrea King, Ron Oliver
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Colin Ferguson, Willie Aames, Catherine Lough Haggquist, Bruce Harwood, Isabella Giannulli, Kevin O’Grady, Omari Newton
Time: 83 min
Country: United States