Christmas Wonderland (2018)

Christmas Wonderland paints a very optimistic picture of what it takes to pull of a high school dance, which is apparently two people and a lot of free time. Heidi (Emily Osment) and Chris (Ryan Rottman), an art dealer and history teacher respectively, are high school sweethearts who reunite when she comes home to babysit her niece and nephew. Although she has a several pressing deadlines at the New York gallery where she works, those are put on hold when her sister has to attend the National Realtors Convention. Heidi ends up taking up the usual parental duties, like cooking, cleaning, volunteering at her nephew’s winter dance.

She’s happy to do so until she realizes Chris is the teacher in charge. The two aren’t thrilled about working together after all these years, but he needs all the help he can get. After all, this is all ridiculously last minute, and where is the student council or the dance committee? It looks like it’s just the two of them, and since neither is a bad or vindictive person, any lingering animosity starts to dissipate.

Importantly, Heidi (somehow) finds time and inspiration to paint again. Though she went to New York to become an artist, about the only thing she’s become is her boss’s right-hand woman. Julia (Kelly Hu) knows her assistant is a painter but isn’t interested in showing her work because she’s also a damn good art dealer, which is of course more important. Heidi’s art skills come in handy, however, when there’s a decorations mishap and she and Chris have to start from scratch to make the Snowball Dance…snowball-y.

I’m mostly amused that Hallmark thinks a high school teacher and hockey coach has so much time on his hands, at the end of the semester no less, that he can drive across the county to buy decorations and scout dance locations. Putting reality aside though, Christmas Wonderland is average and largely forgettable, even if Osment and Rottman turn in fair performances. The two are believable as a teenage couple who have mellowed out and found a new appreciation for one another. Both are kind of low-key in a way I imagine a lot of hometown reunions during the holidays are like. There’s nothing to justify the film’s title, and I doubt you’ll find anything akin to an actual Christmas wonderland in this movie.

Released: 2018
Dir: Sean Olson
Writer: Jay Cipriani, Anna White
Cast: Emily Osment, Ryan Rottman, Kelly Hu, Jacob Buster, Trinity Roberts, Jake Stormoen
Time: 84 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2019