We couldn’t wrap up the current theme properly without at least one heartwarming film about Christmas, even though we’ve overshot by a week. If this film teaches us anything, though, it’s that Christmas is every day because it’s always in your heart, family is a blessing, season of giving, etc.
A young woman set to inherit her father’s company must return to his hometown to learn a lesson about family, love, and (surprise, surprise) Christmas.
Set to inherit her father’s company after his retirement, Ellen seems to have it all. However, after one party stunt too many, she has earned a reputation as the “party heiress,” embarrassing her father and the company alike. Finally fed up with Ellen’s behavior, her father devises a plan to remind her of the good timey old-fashioned family values of the company. (On a side note: everyone keeps referring to the company as a gift company, whatever the fuck that means.)
Ellen must complete the annual delivery of Christmas letters to her uncle in Snow Falls, the small town where her father grew up. To make matters more challenging, Ellen is allowed to spend only $100 while there, and no one can know her true identity as heiress to a company worth millions.
For the first time in her life, Ellen must ride the bus and navigate a town with minimal cell phone reception. Disaster strikes almost immediately when the almost unbelievably clumsy Ellen loses her suitcase to a taxi cab accident.
The taxi driver, Jake, tries to make amends by giving Ellen a lift to the inn, though they’ve really started things off on the wrong foot. You can have 3 guesses on who Ellen’s main love interest is here.
Conveniently, Jake also works at the local inn and helps Ellen get a room there. Less than conveniently, her uncle Zeke is nowhere to be found. It looks like Ellen will be spending more time than anticipated in the small town of Snow Falls, though she can’t afford to pay for another night at the inn. Taking pity on her, Jake allows her to stay as long as she fills in for the maid. Given her previously established clumsiness, this does not end well.
Since Ellen claims to be a baker upon arrival in Snow Falls, she heads next door to the diner instead. She’ll help Jake’s aunt (Andie MacDowell???) with the holiday baking, but it becomes apparent pretty quickly that she has no idea what she’s doing. Putting 2 and 2 together, Aunt Debbie recognizes Ellen as Jim Langford’s daughter but agrees to keep her identity secret. She also reveals Jake’s tragic backstory as a small town boy living in a lonely world. Oh, wait–that’s almost a Journey song. Apparently Jake lived in NYC with a stock broker fiancée who left him for a millionaire. Since then, he’s avoided city slickers and romantic interests of any kind.
Unless he meets a nice lady who helps the homeless, volunteers to share her room with a family during a power outage, and bakes cookies in exchange for donations to a charity auction? Mayhap?
Just as Jake gets close to Ellen–even showing her the ice sculptures he designed (not a euphemism)–her fiancé Gray arrives in town. Will Gray’s arrival erase everything Ellen has learned from the charming small-town folks or will she hold onto the true spirit of Christmas? Just like Hamlet, we’re asking the important questions here.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Predictable, cheesy, and incredibly dependent on stereotypes, this is still reasonably entertaining. As far as wholesome, Hallmark-style movies about what Christmas really means, you could do worse. The characters are fine if rather bland. Ellen is actually fairly likeable as a protagonist even though I don’t 100% understand how her behavior at parties is considered so scandalous or why her father is so upset. The first thing we see her do is a series of vaults at a charity fundraiser, which I feel is not enough to merit her picture appearing in tabloids all the damn time. Part of me is also disappointed that she didn’t have to do vaults at the end of the movie to save Christmas.
On an unrelated note, I tried really hard to get beyond Jake having the hairstyle and wardrobe of Donald Trump Jr.’s “just a regular guy who’s into flannel” photo shoot in the woods, but mostly failed. (You can Google it–no one in that family is ever having their picture featured here.) He’s likeable enough as a love interest if annoyingly perfect. I mean, minus the DJT Jr. vibes.