Check Inn to Christmas (2019)

There are only so many movies about the family inn that I can take in a holiday season, and as I’ve already exceeded my limit for the year, Check Inn to Christmas gets a hard pass from me. It’s not a terrible film and is actually well acted, but unless you’re a fan of stars Rachel Boston and Wes Brown or underwhelming stories about dueling inn owners, you don’t need to carve out space in your schedule for this.

The Crawley and Mason clans are at the center of this movie with the rift between the two families going back at least a century when the respective patriarchs built competing inns in Crestridge, Colorado. Time has not lessened their animosity, however, and Tim Crawley (Richard Karn) and Bill Mason (Christopher Cousins) are doing their best to continue this legacy of ill will. They’ve trained at least two of their children well. Lexi Crawley (Anna Daines) and Frank Mason (Logan Donovan) are going head-to-head in a bid to become the Christmas grand marshal for the town’s centennial holiday celebrations. Julia (Boston) and Ryan (Brown), on the other hand, are ready to put an end to the decades of squabbling.

The two have more pressing concerns that don’t include decorating contests and dessert bakeoffs. Julia awaits news of a possible promotion at her law firm, waiting things out while on her first vacation in years. Ryan, meanwhile, battles work concerns closer to home, as in he’s the manager of his family’s inn. The set-up brings some perks, but it also brings quite a bit of tension. His father dismisses Ryan’s suggestions to modernize, preferring to keep things exactly the way they are. Bill reasons that if it worked for previous generations, it’ll work for the forthcoming ones.

Of course he couldn’t be more wrong, and old traditions and rivalries are challenged when Edgestone Resorts comes to town. The company, which has been buying up local inns throughout the region, changes the dynamic of all the relationships, and what starts as a simple battle to win a few daffy contests becomes a fight to save not just a few businesses but a whole town. Unfortunately, I’m not very invested in anyone or anything here. The Crawley and Mason inns and even the whole of Crestridge fail to inspire, and it’s hard to care when these characters and predicaments are similar to those in so many other Christmas movies.

A few grown-up moments do stand out even if they ultimately don’t distinguish this film. Ryan’s relationship with his dad provides a lot of material to work through, and Brown plays up the conflict nicely, exposing his character’s pain and pride. Ryan shares another compelling scene with Julia when both criticize each other for their career decisions. She patronizes him for staying home and taking up the family business while he goes in on her for leaving town and not caring about the people of Crestridge. Boston also delivers a good performance, tempering her tendency to smile her way through her characters’ difficulties. The story has trouble sustaining any of these conflicts, however, and what might have been a strong through-line just becomes a minor narrative hurdle.

Released: 2019
Dir: Sam Irvin
Writer: Anna White
Cast: Rachel Boston, Wes Brown, Richard Karn, Christopher Cousins, Emiliano Diez, Anna Daines, Charla Bocchicchio, Barta Heiner, Logan Donovan, Jan Broberg
Time: 84 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2019