Friday, January 08, 2021

Tonight's Movie: USS Christmas (2020)

Epiphany may be over, but I think I'll keep watching Hallmark Christmas movies till Candlemas...or Lent...or maybe all year long! I've been enjoying them more than ever this year, and they're certainly a good tonic for all the bad news in the world, which I think we've had just about enough of for the past year.

USS CHRISTMAS (2020) is a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel film with a unique setting, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier which goes here by the fictional name USS Polaris.

The story takes place during a Christmastime "Tiger Cruise," a short repositioning trip which allows the families of crew members to experience a taste of life on an aircraft carrier.

Maddie Contino (Jen Lilley), a North Carolina newspaper reporter, goes on the cruise with her mother, Elizabeth (Barbara Niven).  Maddie's sister Amelia (Stefanie Butler) is a Navy pilot who serves on the ship.

One of Amelia's colleagues, Lt. Billy Jenkins (Trevor Donovan), is the son of an old friend of the family, Captain Chet Jenkins (Brett Rice).  Billy helps Maddie track down leads for a story she's inspired to write after visiting the carrier's archives. 

Along the way Maddie and Billy fall for each other, but Maddie is wary of a serious relationship, having grown up with her father away on Navy duty much of the time and ultimately losing him in a training accident.  Will true love find a way?

I felt this film, written by Andrea Canning and directed by Steven R. Monroe, was slightly weaker in quality than some Hallmark Christmas films I've seen this season, but the enjoyable setting helps make up for a somewhat more lightweight script. It was fun to see a bit of life aboard a ship, and frankly I would have been happy to see even more of those types of scenes.

The film also has appealing actresses in Lilley and Niven. Donovan isn't as warm as some Hallmark actors, but his persona admittedly fits the role of a hotshot Navy pilot, and his character unbends enough that his last couple scenes are touching.  He also has good chemistry with Lilley; their characters seem genuinely comfortable hanging out together and opening up about their lives.

While a majority of Hallmark films are shot in Canada, USS CHRISTMAS was filmed in North and South Carolina, including the Battleship North Carolina, which is a museum, and the Wilmington Railroad Museum. I found an article on the locations which provides more information for those who may be interested.

USS CHRISTMAS was a pleasant 84 minutes and time well spent as we head into the second week of January.  Happy New Year!


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