Dashing Through the Snow has the makings of a middling feature film starring Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl and probably costarring Gerard Butler. Ashley Harrison (Meghan Ory) is a crafty woman – that is a woman who does crafts and not a duplicitous person – who’s racing home to Seattle so she can be with her recently widowed mother for a Christmas lighting ceremony. However, her flight gets cancelled and the car rental agencies run out of vehicles, so she has no choice but to hitch a ride with Dash Sutherland (Andrew Walker), a smug loner who’s bribed his way into renting the last car on the lot. The two snake their way up the coast and get to know each other in between unnecessary pit stops, an overnight stay at a motel, and endless references to It Happened One Night, except they don’t really get to know each other because Dash is hiding the fact that he’s a federal agent assigned to tail Ashley. The FBI thinks she’s a Very Dangerous Criminal engaged in some sort of trafficking, and it doesn’t help when she sneaks around to visit her immigrant “friends” or speaks in a foreign language.
There’s a lot of potential for wacky physical comedy as well as a battle of wills and wits. There’s also much to say about the types, or stereotypes, of people involved in terrorism but that’s not for today. The movie reminds me of the road trip gone awry in The Bounty Hunter as well as the fiery opposites attract dynamic in The Ugly Truth, but like most Hallmark productions, the narrative rarely expands beyond what’s in front of you, which is a straightforward romance about two attractive people who bond because what else are you going to do when you’re trapped in a car with a stranger?
Okay, there’s a lot you could do, but the closest the movie comes to emotional depth or existential angst is Dash’s conflicted character. I keep waiting for Walker to break out of Hallmark prison and take on some meatier roles because, as he shows here, he can drive a story, literally in this case. Ory is sweet and smiley and keeps the film bouncing along, but Dash is the one I really want to get to know. A war vet who’s trying to overcome the trauma of a failed mission, he should be the focus instead of perky if sometimes sad Ashley, who we know is going to be alright whether or not she gets to Seattle on time.
To distract from its lazy storytelling, the movie occasionally jumps to a subplot involving two teens who resort to law-breaking in order to fund a ski trip. Their misadventure is underdeveloped, uninteresting, and way too unrelated to anything else to merit the screen time it gets. The FBI agents who are after Ashley add some much needed humor, but it’s only funny if you can overcome how incompetent they are. It’s a pretty big ask to imagine an entire team devoting the resources they do in pursuit of someone whose deadliest weapons are knitting needles and crafting shears. Then again, this movie isn’t about believability but quick Christmasy sentiment.
Dir: K.T. Donaldson
Writer: Maria Nation
Cast: Meghan Ory, Andrew Walker, Aaron Craven, Rukiya Bernard, Amitai Marmorstein, Aleks Paunovic
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries