Hallmark should lay off the Jane Austen, specifically Pride and Prejudice, if they’re going to continue mangling it like this (though I could go for a Persuasion adaptation, tbh). Are two P&P Christmas retellings in one year really necessary? A hard no, even if Michael Rady is starring in one of them. Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe barely has any Pride and Prejudice in it, however, and the inspiration it draws from the novel is so laughable that I can’t pretend to care.
The story trades on the title and some superficial changes, the main characters being the wealthy Darcy Fitzwilliam (Lacey Chabert) and the humble caterer Luke Bennett (Brendan Penny), both of whom come from the town of Pemberley – and that is all. That is the extent of our P&P references. There’s no dastardly suitor or sour aunt to ruin things or to provide some over-the-top dramatics, which is a shame because the movie could use their histrionics.
Instead, it’s just boring Darcy and Luke, two sensible people who share none of the qualities of their namesakes. Darcy is a New York-based investor back home to help her parents out with a major charity auction. They’ve enlisted the services of Luke, the new owner of a local tavern and Darcy’s high school debate partner. The sparks that once animated their rivalry are gone though. They engage in some verbal sparring as warm-up but are quick to work together because, you know, adults.
Except the movie could use a lot more of their old competitiveness. Really any element from the original work would help this project along. Instead, the story goes in circles. If the characters aren’t worrying about whether they’ll be able to pull off the auction, then it’s Darcy fretting over a coup at her firm. Her vision of the company differs from that of her partners, and as she tries to deal with the problem remotely, she just ends up on the phone a lot of the time.
If there was an actual Lizzy and Darcy dynamic, then all the mundane planning would be more of an adventure. The film lacks a sense of urgency without it, and Darcy and Luke’s cozy relationship only dials down the tension. Her relationship with her ex (Carl Downs) might deliver some fireworks, but he’s an agreeable chap and friendly with the family. I don’t know why the writers couldn’t throw in a misguided but impassioned proposal or, better yet, Lydia Bennett howling about another slimeball lover. Instead, we have to rely the minor drama of whether or not the couple should kiss under the mistletoe.
Dir: Don McBrearty
Writer: Nina Weinman
Cast: Lacey Chabert, Brendan Penny, Sherry Miller, Art Hindle, Anna Hardwick, Morgan David Jones, Steve Belford
Time: 82 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel