Monday, November 30, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Five Star Christmas (2020)

I find that this year I'm especially wanting to watch warm and cozy Christmas movies, and FIVE STAR CHRISTMAS (2020) from the Hallmark Channel filled that wish perfectly.

The three adult children of Ted Ralston (Robert Wisden) arrive home for Christmas to a big surprise: Their dad has turned their family home into a bed and breakfast.  It's gorgeous but unsettlingly unfamiliar...and unfortunately Ted is struggling financially as he hasn't had enough guests to offset the expensive renovations.

When Beth Thompson (Laura Soltis) shows up, Ted's oldest daughter Lucy (Bethany Joy Lenz) suspects that's she's a famous travel blogger known to be in the area, traveling incognito.  A five-star review from the critic could make all the difference in Ted saving the business and the family home.

Lucy doesn't want the B&B to appear empty or without staff, so on the spur of the moment she recruits her brother Will (Blair Penner) and his wife Suzanne (Barbara Patrick) to be "guests," while Grandpa (Jay Brazeau) pretends to be the handyman and youngest sister Amber (Grace Beedie) is the cook, "Chef Francesca."  When Grandma (Paula Shaw) shows up, she acts the role of a guest as well.

Jake Finlay (Victor Webster), a handsome geologist on assignment in the area, checks in as well, and suddenly the B&B has two paying guests.  Jake and Lucy hit it off, but their developing relationship is complicated by the family's elaborate ruse.

This film, with its large cast and multiple subplots, struck me as a little different from the "norm" for Hallmark; in fact, it perhaps could have stood being just a few minutes longer just to fit more of the romance into the overall story.

Initially the film seemed a bit over the top, trying too hard to be funny, and the family maintaining all of the deceptions was a little exhausting.  I think that aspect won't be so tiring next time I see the film, as I'll know where it's all going.

The movie quickly settled into something more special, as it gave the characters a chance to breathe and get out from under the silliness, and the script did an excellent job working in some foreshadowing without being obvious about it, which led to some nice emotional payoffs at the end.  It all built to a warm and satisfying conclusion which left me happily teary-eyed.

I'd add that there were some very nice "Christmas moments"; I don't think I've seen a taffy pull in a Hallmark movie before!

Lenz creates a fully rounded character in Lucy; she's bossy, but we come to understand why, and we also see her good heart.  Webster is quite appealing and has a hilarious moment near the end (a singer he's not, but that made it all the better).

Among the supporting cast I especially enjoyed Beedie as Amber, a college student whose stint as the B&B cook leads her to realize what she really wants to do with her life.

Alfonso H. Moreno wrote the screenplay, from a story by Stephen Witkin and Michael Elliot.  The movie was directed by Christie Will Wolf and filmed by Amy Belling, with British Columbia standing in for Connecticut.

I really enjoyed this one and will look forward to watching it again in future Christmas seasons.


Blogger Gabrielle said...

I loved this movie. So fun, and a but different from usual Hallmarks, just a breath of freshness. Can anyone tell me what gift Lucy gives Amber? Thank you!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad to know you liked it too! I'm afraid the gift has slipped my mind a few weeks later, but perhaps someone else remembers and can chime in.

Best wishes,

6:19 PM  

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