No Time Like Christmas (2019)

The Christmas movie season is long, like my neighbors still have their Halloween decorations out long, but I think we have a winner for the worst holiday movie of the year. You literally should not spend any time on this unless you enjoy being tortured by painfully bad acting. My mom and I couldn’t even make it to the halfway mark before turning it off, though I did eventually finish watching it at three o’clock in the morning.

For once, the problem doesn’t lie with the story. The script isn’t great, but the movie could easily be an average holiday feature, background noise for when you’re baking pies and such. Emma (Kyla Pratt) is a copywriter who lands a plum assignment just before Christmas. If she can put together a stellar campaign for a watch company, she’ll definitely get a promotion in the new year. Her plans to work through the holidays at her sister’s place in Vermont change, however, when she learns that said sister is passing her off to the local B&B instead.

The reason? Emma’s ex-boyfriend, Fletcher (Edward Ruttle), is in town to direct The Christmas Carol and happens to be staying at The Exact Same Inn. Surprise, suckas. The two set aside their awkwardness with the help of Fletcher’s daughter, Lola (Sophia Bachart), whose enthusiasm puts everyone at ease. Soon the former couple back to their old creative ways. He finds inspiration to write a brand new play, which he will cast, rehearse, and perform in one week, and she agrees to lend a hand with original music. It’s like the old days, until an actress and a mistaken email attachment screw things up.

One can forgive the occasional odd plot point and the overuse of the clichéd time motif, but it takes a lot of willpower to get through the acting. I’m sorry to Kyla Pratt because she is really trying here. In this film though, she’s channeling the part of fun auntie on a Disney Channel show, a role she would kill by the way, and it’s just not the right fit. Ruttle has a better feel for his character, but his acting suffers as well. I think what I’m getting at is fire the casting director because there is zero chemistry between our supposed lovers. You might as well put a damn mountain between the two; there is no meeting in the middle. Secondary characters Thomas (Rothaford Gray), painter-innkeeper-mayor extraordinaire, and Katherine (Marina Stephenson Kerr), Fletcher’s mom, look more loved up just holding hands.

There is exactly one scene that might save this misbegotten project. It occurs at the end, so the film may be too far gone, but it’s the debut of Emma’s new song. Holy timepieces, Pratt sings the hell out of it. They should have just turned this into a musical with Pratt performing holiday standards. If you’re feeling generous, that might be what saves the film. Better to end on a high note than none at all.

Released: 2019
Dir: Jeff Beesley
Writer: Carley Smale
Cast: Kyla Pratt, Edward Ruttle, Sophia Bachart, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Jade Michael,Rothaford Gray, Jim O’Heir
Time: 85 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Lifetime
Reviewed: 2019