Marry Me at Christmas (2017)

So here’s a revelation. Hallmark movies are far more watchable when one of the lead actors looks like Chris Pine. Turns out the plot matters little when I’m imagining actual Chris Pine in cheesy romances. As far as Marry Me at Christmas goes, the story couldn’t be further from reality. A hot LA actor and a small town wedding boutique owner dive into a serious relationship over the course of two short weeks? Totally fake. But again, who cares because… (lookalike) Chris Pine.

Trevor Donovan has the good fortune (I think we can call it that) of resembling one of my favorite leading men and also happens to be a decent actor. He doesn’t have too much to work with but he makes the most of what he does have. I imagine the basic direction here is to look good in a shawl collar sweater and to act like a nice dude; he does. His character, Johnny Blake, isn’t a pretentious Hollywood type, despite helming some blockbuster franchise. But he could use a break and just live like a normal person for a bit. He gets the chance when his sister, Ginger (Emily Tennant), decides to have a Christmas wedding in the tiny northern California town of Fool’s Gold.

Ginger, who designed the town’s website, enlists the help of Maddie (Rachel Skarsten) to plan the wedding. Maddie and her friend, Isabel (Crystal Lowe), own a bridal store, but it’s fallen on rough times and they’ll have to reassess things after the holidays. This new commission could be what they need to bring in extra money and some publicity. Wary of violating Johnny’s trust though, Maddie refuses to use the actor to boost her business and does her best to keep her association with him, and their growing friendship, under wraps.

This is a case of a mediocre story being elevated by two very likable leads. Besides Donavan, Skarsten is a pleasure to watch. When it comes to cookie cutter Hallmark flicks, I have a thing for humble, down-to-earth types and she makes Maddie very accessible. She’s a bit excited about Christmas, but otherwise, she is just low-key ordinary. She also isn’t prone to rash, senseless decisions and approaches her relationship with Big Movie Star in a reasonable manner. In fact they both do, trying to rationalize their way out of a romance, which only guarantees that they are meant for each other.

Having two characters you want to spend an hour an a half with is important because there’s not much going on here otherwise. Few conflicts are alluded to but none explored with any seriousness. There’s a brief flare-up between Maddie and Isabel over exploiting Johnny’s fame, Johnny casually but innocently throws around his money and privilege, Maddie is emerging from the pain of a failed engagement, and Johnny and Ginger miss their dead parents. Also, Johnny really doesn’t want to film something called Fire’s Edge 3. None of that really mattered though. I ended the movie smiling, and that’s all that counts.

Released: 2017
Dir: Terry Ingram
Writer: Julie Sherman Wolfe
Cast: Rachel Skarsten, Trevor Donovan, Emily Tennant, Crystal Lowe, Blair Penner, Keith MacKechnie, Michele Scarabelli
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2017

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