Christmas in the Air (2017)

You probably have some cleaning up to do, maybe tidying up the laundry room or rearranging your spice rack. Whatever it is, now is the time to get on that because whatever organizing you end up doing will be far more productive than watching this drab Hallmark movie about a professional organizer and a single father. Anyway, as a disciple, albeit a bad one, of Marie Kondo, I’m not partial to the idea of paying someone to tidy up your shit. The houses may look clean, but there’s no way all that stuff sparks joy.

That, it turns out, is the problem with Christmas in the Air; it doesn’t spark joy or any other positive feeling – unless you think sleep is positive, in which case this is a great movie. There’s nothing in here though that gives this the lift it needs to stay afloat. It has one of the most sluggish scripts in the Hallmark library, and I’ve suffered through quite a few, the story is bland, and the leads are just dull.

One of the main characters, Robert (Eric Close), is a toy inventor, so you’d think that his rad creations would be pulled into focus or at least we’d get to peek into his workshop. With the exception of a few brief scenes, the shots are more domestic in nature. Not much goes on there that we haven’t already seen before. I mean, cluttered house and holiday chaos? This is my normal day.

At least Robert has an excuse. He and his brother own a toy company, and they hope to woo the owner of a national chain so that he’ll stock their products the following year. The guy decides to come months earlier and to enjoy a home-cooked Christmas dinner, which means Robert’s got to clean and cook. But he’s also got two young children who have extra-curriculars and has no wife to help with dad duties.

Professional organizer Lydia (Catherine Bell) can take care of the housekeeping part. She instills in him her 3-C mantra: contain, concentrate, control. (Oh, Marie Kondo, save us!) Her uber-calm manner is what the harried widower needs, and the kids don’t mind having her around. But underneath that demeanor lie some issues she needs to work out. Having been burnt once before by a partner who was more devoted to his job than her, she is especially demanding on Robert. They start to get close, but he still is under pressure and she straight chastises him for not maintaining a good work-life balance. I get it. I live in Hong Kong; play time is important. But the guy does kind of need to seal this deal and, I don’t know, support his kids.

Their sometimes clashing priorities typifies this whole movie. It’s a lot of two ships passing in the night, and Bell and Close never really connect even when they do. Since we can’t rely on the chemistry, one might be inclined to concentrate on the story. That offers zero surprises though and you would do just as well asking a random kid to tell her own stories for an hour and a half.

Released: 2017
Dir: Martin Wood
Writer: Janna King
Cast: Catherine Bell, Eric Close, Ken Tremblatt, Malcolm Stewart, Trinity Rose Likins, Jesse Filkow
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel
Reviewed: 2017

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