Journey Back to Christmas is a little more my speed in that it’s a bit period and offers a slightly different ending to its relationships. But the 1940s time warp in this accidental time travel movie is brief and not altogether compelling. The events begin in 1945 and Hannah (Candace Cameron Bure hamming it up a little) is a nurse in Central Falls. Though it’s Christmas and the war has ended, she finds it difficult to enjoy the holidays after the death of her husband who was fighting in France. On the night of a big storm, she decides to do a good deed but gets stranded in the snow. At that moment, the Christmas Comet, which only appears every 71 years, blazes across the sky and she falls unconscious.
When Hannah finally comes around the next morning, things look a little different. Cars with automatic doors! People staring into tiny handheld machines! She doesn’t know what the hell is going on, especially since she recognizes some of the buildings in town but they’re all somehow changed. Police officers Jake (Oliver Hudson) and Sarah (Brooke Nevin) take her in for questioning as everyone tries to solve this mystery.
As far as the townspeople go, people are rightly suspicious because come on, the woman thinks it’s 1945. One guy (Tom Skerritt) doesn’t think she’s so wacky, but he’s just the old eccentric. Nevertheless, Jake, being the nice, handsome guy he is, brings her home to his family so that she doesn’t have to spend Christmas in the police station. Sarah and his younger sister, however, are skeptical. Fair enough. What doesn’t really make sense though is the tenacity of one Mrs. Jones to expose Hannah as a fraud. Her manufactured outrage at this whole situation seems extreme and personal for no apparent reason other than to have an antagonist on hand when the story starts to sag.
Once Hannah gets over her initial shock, meanwhile, she seems pretty content to just leave things as they are. She’s still confused about how and why she ended up in 2016, but there’s no hysteria or desperation, which is the state I’d be in if I was suddenly hurled decades into the future. That she’s not actively trying to find a way home – that is 1945 and not her actual house, which has been turned into a specialty shop called Organic Planet – causes the whole story to lose focus and purpose. Every once in awhile, there is some comment on Christmases past; Hannah is shocked that some traditions, like caroling, have fallen by the wayside. There are also nods to the importance of doing good things, no matter how small. But the movie relies too much on the novelty of 1940s Candace Cameron Bure trying to navigate the present day and not enough on strong storytelling.
Dir: Mel Damski
Writer: Maria Nation
Cast: Candace Cameron Bure, Oliver Hudson, Tom Skerritt, Brooke Nevin, Claire Rankin, Gwyneth Walsh
Time: 83 min
Country: United States