Monday, November 28, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Jolly Good Christmas (2022)

My first Christmas movie of the season is JOLLY GOOD CHRISTMAS (2022), a brand-new film from this year's slate of holiday films shown on the Hallmark Channel.

According to IMDb, JOLLY GOOD CHRISTMAS has an alternate title, CHRISTMAS IN LONDON.

It wasn't a hard decision to start the season with this film, since I'm a sucker for anything filmed in one of my favorite cities. It was a treat they actually did some nice location work, rather than faking it with establishing shots and green screens.

Another pull to the film is that it was written by Ron Oliver, whom I've had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of times at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs. He regularly writes and/or directs for the channel; I've also reviewed LOVE AT THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE (2012), which he directed, and TRULY, MADLY, SWEETLY (2018), which he cowrote and directed.

JOLLY GOOD CHRISTMAS has a pair of appealing lead actors in Will Kemp and Reshma Shetty. The British-born Kemp, who recently signed a multi-picture deal with Hallmark, plays David, an American architect working in London.

David is dating Charlotte (Sophie Hopkins), his boss's daughter, and is stymied over what to buy her for Christmas. After he has a "meet cute" with Anji (Shetty), a professional shopper, he offers to double her going rate if she will help him, even though it's almost Christmas Eve.

As David and Anji shop together, he comes to realize how little he really knows about Charlotte, while he and Anji connect over a series of adventures (and misadventures!). They've each had hurts and frustrations in their past lives but are also positive and goal-oriented, and over the course of the day they encourage each other, with the life each of them really wants suddenly seeming more possible.

This may not be absolute top-drawer Hallmark, but it's a very solid and enjoyable film I'll watch again. The film has a nice sense of "place" due to the location filming, along with Anji's parents owning a pub, and it also has fun doing a bit of contrasting the American and British versions of Christmas, with David wishing Anji a "merry" Christmas while she wishes him one that's "happy."

I had anticipated a love story in which the hero is torn between two women might be problematic, but I think the script handled it well, walking a line between making clear Charlotte is too edgy for David but at the same time, not really a bad person. David and Anji recognize their attraction but don't act on it until David makes a decision about his commitment to Charlotte and they talk it over.

JOLLY GOOD CHRISTMAS is engaging throughout, and it left me with a smile on my face, which is exactly what I hope for when I watch a Hallmark Christmas movie.

JOLLY GOOD CHRISTMAS was directed by Jonathan Wright and filmed by Russ Goozee.

For review links to some of the other Hallmark Christmas films I've watched in the last few years, please visit Hallmark Christmas Movie Reviews and scroll down to explore the titles.


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