I don’t know how Candace Cameron Bure and Lacey Chabert became my Hallmark bêtes noires, though I suspect it may be because of their constant presence in the early going when I started this bad holiday movie habit. My specific gripe with CCB is easy to place. She overacts; every part of her performance is strained and all too eager to please. Maybe I have been unfair to Ms. Chabert though. After all, she is in one of my favorite movies ever, Anastasia. But I never seem to look forward to her performances, and though this can be said of many others, she always plays the same sweet but dull character. Rather than infecting others with her spirit of kindness, she just bores.
My mum does not mind, however, so that means I’ll be watching Chabert’s movies indefinitely if we’re going to continue trading notes, and The Sweetest Christmas, we concluded, is…okay. Chabert again plays the meek office girl, underappreciated by all around her. Kylie needs to step it up if she doesn’t want to get taken advantage of by her boss boyfriend, a guy who constantly talks about her as a team member and partner instead of my awesome and talented gf. When an expected proposal turns out to be just a promotion, mostly to his benefit, she calls it quits and refocuses her energy on her baking career. A former pastry chef, she hopes to start her own business and can do so if she wins the top prize at a local gingerbread competition.
But wait. You don’t think Kylie’s just going to go home and start baking. Of course there are a hundred things that get in her way. She is living at her sister’s place, her niece has just melted a bunch of toys in the oven, another oven won’t be ready until after Christmas, she gets belated notice that the semi-finals are in a week, and she still has to plan the office Christmas party. When the hell will she have time to design her award-winning concoction and where the hell is she going to find an oven big enough to handle trays and trays of gingerbread, she wonders as she sees her ex-boyfriend who is now the owner of a local pizzeria which he took over from his deceased parents? How serendipitous. Hot dad Nick (Lea Coco) offers his very shiny ovens in return for baking advice for his son’s Christmas party. I’m not sure it’s a fair deal, but they seem to think it is.
This movie is another case of misspent resources. We get a glimpse of a few especially flashy gingerbread structures, not houses, at the end, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had some Food Network levels of gingerbread porn? I think the whole process of designing and building these things is more interesting than the routine story. Though the latter produces a few sparks, the relationship generally feels like a chore. Chabert and Coco are a fine pair; they bicker in all the right places and then let the wise black friend/kitchen staff, Ralphie (Jonathan Adams), help them see the light. I guarantee you won’t remember them in a few weeks time though, which makes this kind of a wasted effort.
Writer: Erin Dobson
Cast: Lacey Chabert, Lea Coco, Lara Gilchrist, Jonathan Adams, Corina Akeson, Brenden Sunderland
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel