The small Midwestern town I grew up in has nighttime Christmas parade that is, well, a pretty big deal. Folks from all across the region get themselves and their Ford F-150s kitted out in bright lights every winter, and the city streets, all five of them, are shut down as marching bands and Santa floats trundle through so-called downtown to cheering, ice-coated citizens. It’s been a good twenty years since I froze my ass off marching in this parade, and well, I have never ever thought of going back. Why? Because that’s something only Hallmark characters do.
And that’s why I can’t stop rolling my eyes at Snowcoming, which gets a strike for its plot and another one for its title. Apparently this winter festival and dance is a Big Fucking Deal in some small town outside Seattle. Everyone comes back to celebrate, everyone except Samantha (Lindy Booth) and Jake (Trevor Donovan). Jake is kind of excused since he’s a professional football player, a really good one, and who wants to go to a dance in a school gym when you’ve got NFL money? But Samantha, she just doesn’t feel like it, especially when she’s working at a publishing house trying to corner the Brussels sprouts cookbook market. Both end up back home this year though, which makes things awkward because one, they used to date, and two, they’re both staying with Samantha’s dad, Coach Kerrigan (Dan Marinaro), the local high school’s PE teacher and football coach.
I like Booth because she always has a mature calm that my fake-adult self cannot conjure, and I also don’t mind Donovan, who I say looks like Chris Pine’s younger brother and my mom says looks like Robert Redford’s son, and you really can’t go wrong either way. Together, however, the two have little chemistry. Their characters aren’t antagonistic and neither shows up with a jealous partner, leaving this pair little steam to drive the story forward. Though each character has to make some big decision, they largely work things out without the help of the other. Samantha has to decide whether she’s happy at her current job editing cookbooks when she’s really passionate about children’s literature. Jake, on the other hand, has things a little more sorted. He knows he’s at the end of his career but has yet to decide what to do next.
That leaves a lot of time for mundane scenes of wintery fun. It turns out the two are glad to have come back for Snowcoming. As they dive into festival preparations, they also find new direction with Coach Kerrigan’s impending retirement and a school library upgrade. But those only offer a few moments of high action. The rest of the film is stuffed with cliché fillers – snow angels, snowball fights, campfires in the front yard. I’ll take any of these activities in real life over watching them here, thank you very much.
Dir: Peter DeLuise
Writer: Betsy Morris
Cast: Lindy Booth, Trevor Donovan, Lynda Boyd, Caitlin Stryker, Andrew Dunbar, Ed Marinaro, Joe Theismann, Jordyn Ashley Olson
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel