Come Dance with Me isn’t a Christmas film that gets endlessly repeated on Hallmark, and when it does appear on the schedule, it’s at three in the morning. It’s not hard to see why. I wouldn’t waste my precious daytime hours with this movie when there are better ones with similar plots. Take Sound of Christmas, for example, which also features a woman in the performing arts who falls in love with the man who’s about to evict her. I still remember the lovely brownstone and the sense of a cozy urban arts space that gave the movie a unique touch. This movie, on the other hand, doesn’t take advantage of the one thing that would make it stand out, and that is dancing.
Really a dance film in name only, it’s about Jack (Andrew McCarthy) and Christine (Michelle Nolden) and occasionally the waltz. He has a posh job at a financial services firm but he’s not old money enough to win the approval of his girlfriend’s mom, who is also his boss’s wife. A little snobbery won’t stop Jack from proposing at the company Christmas party, and if anything, he hopes his new dance skills will make an impression. But first he needs to get some of those skills and enlists the help of Christine. She owns her own studio and agrees to a few lessons. Everything is grand for a day or two, but then she learns that her lease isn’t being renewed and he finds out that he’s the one repossessing the building.
There’s some humor, and McCarthy is game for whatever the script requires. As Jack tries to evade detection, he makes mad and goofy attempts to keep up a real relationship with Christine even though he knows the bottom will eventually fall out. He has to hide both his identity and the fact that he’s got a girlfriend who he kind of wants to marry. Nolden, meanwhile, is much more serious. She and McCarthy don’t have great chemistry, though I blame that on the writing. She just doesn’t have much to do with her character. Christine is so preoccupied with losing her studio, and understandably so, that Nolden doesn’t get room to explore anything else.
But bad character development isn’t enough to sink a film like this. What does eventually doom this project is the lack of anything to pick up the slack. A couple dance numbers scattered throughout could have lifted the sagging plot, which is what saved Lifetime’s Holiday Spin. It’s still an embarrassing teen soap opera also about a studio threatened with closure, but it gets great jolts of energy with key ensemble pieces mixed with more intimate duets. One can at least appreciate the effort that movie put into its dance scenes, something this film doesn’t really bother with. Instead, the big number is saved for the end, which isn’t enough even if you’ve managed to get that far. All this movie needed was a bit of creativity, some musical and visual flair to complement the characters and their story. I’ll again direct everyone to Hallmark’s Nutcracker Christmas, the criminally underwatched movie that treats its subjects and the performing arts with the love they deserve.
Alt Title: The Christmas Dance
Dir: John Bradshaw
Writer: Kevin Commins
Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Michelle Nolden, Stephanie Anne Mills, Mary Long, Zachary Bennett, Chris Gillett, Jane Moffat
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries