Sweet and gentle and capped off with early 1990s Amy Grant – this is my kind of sappy Christmas movie. It got bumped up the queue on my mom’s recommendation; she said I’d like it because it was different from the usual Hallmark movies about parades and getting lost in small towns, and she was right. Instead, it tells the very romantic story of a woman who crashes her bike into a guy, giving him a case of amnesia right before Christmas. Amazingly, he bears no ill will towards her, and together they try to figure out who the hell he is.
The movie does a good job of hiding the man’s (Peter Porte) identity. Well, we figure out his name is Aiden because we can’t just go around calling him The Man. Otherwise, clues about his former life are parceled out carefully. Darcy (Ali Liebert), the woman who runs into him, sneaks into his house and nicks a few things to bring to the hospital, hoping something will jog Aiden’s memory. He eventually recalls owning the diamond ring Darcy shows him but can’t recall who he’s meant to give it to. The photos in his house don’t help either.
The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, and we get some long walks and reflective conversations during which Darcy and Aiden try to coax out some memories, anything that will help him get back to his rightful owners. But as the days drag on and no one even bothers filing a missing persons report, you’ve got to wonder what’s this guy’s deal. Judging by his palatial house and minimalist taste in interior design, he may be kind of a jerk. He doesn’t even have any Christmas decorations up. That’s at odds with Aiden’s post-crash personality though. He has a talent in art and is especially kind to the children at the hospital. Plus he has a cute dog named Bailey.
Whoever he was, Darcy’s starting to fall for the guy he is. I mean, he doesn’t even yell at her for putting him in the hospital and possibly ruining his life. Instead, he just admires her tenacity and the concern she shows him. That’s just the kind of self-esteem boost she needs now because even though she isn’t anywhere near falling apart in her personal or professional life, she has stalled. The longtime owner of Chaucer’s Bookstore where she works is retiring and hopes that one of his employees will take over management. Everyone thinks Darcy’s perfect for the position, except for Darcy herself. The prospect of losing business to their larger, more unimaginative competitor Books, Books, Books is also distressing.
There are points when the movie drags. Towards the end of the second act, we get more stories from Aiden’s past but we’re not getting any closer to figuring out his identity. These parts could have used more drama, perhaps some bookshop wars a la You’ve Got Mail or a romantic subplot involving Darcy’s landlady Mrs. Henley (Tina Lifford), a mature substitute for black best friend, and neighborhood chef Luigi (Aurelio DiNunzio), an Italian stereotype in 3D. The payoff in the end is enough for one to overlook the movie’s faults though. Even if this is not the case in real life, at least you can pretend that humility and kindness are totally worth it and are especially meaningful during the holidays.
“Grown-Up Christmas List” by Amy Grant:
Dir: Kevin Fair
Writer: David Orion, Topher Payne
Cast: Ali Liebert, Peter Porte, Tina Lifford, Kristin York, Ricky He, Brandi Alexander, Aurelio DiNunzio, David Franco
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel