You just can’t have a steampunk-inspired Christmas musical every week, can you? But you can have a holiday film about a radio station that at least talks about Christmas music and throws in a festive tune or two! This week’s pick may not enjoy quite the same amount of holiday magic or gorgeously realized fashions, though it does have an impressive number of customized matching footie pajamas.
After losing their jobs, a radio DJ and his boss attempt to launch a new station, all while teaching spoiled children the true meaning of Christmas as the holidays approach.
Successful local DJ Rush Williams becomes increasingly confident as his career grows. The part of his life that could most use improvement? His parenting style. More and more inclined to simply throw money at whatever problems arise for his children, Rush has unwittingly created spoiled little brats he can never say no to. This Christmas seems to be no exception as the kids demand outlandish gifts like miniature horses, cars, and designer clothes.
It’s not a coincidence that Rush feels the need to overcompensate where his kids are concerned. Since the death of his wife, Rush feels pressure to play the role of both parents while keeping his grief to himself. Luckily, Rush’s aunt spends a lot of time taking care of the children, accepting absolutely no nonsense. But is that really enough to replace quality time with their dad?
Perpetually late, Rush has boss and friend Roxy to keep him on track. The two share an ambition: to co-own the radio station where they work. For the time being, this means playing it safe, opting for pre-approved Christmas classics over Rush’s preferred “Christmas in Hollis.” That is, until the station is acquired by a much larger, more cut-throat company, which immediately cancels Rush and Roxy’s show and sends them home with not even a holiday bonus.
Though he’s worried about the future of his dreams, family man Rush is most concerned about letting down the kids. Not only does Rush’s job loss mean a much more toned down Christmas than in years, past, but it also means the family will have to sell the house and move in with Auntie Jo. Their aunt now lives in the family’s former home, infused with the difficult memories of the children’s mother dying of cancer, and where her absence will feel most keen.
As chance would have it, selling the house would give Rush some much-needed funds for a promising new investment: the radio station where he and Roxy got their first start is now up for sale, giving the pair a chance to fulfill their dream. But their rival radio station is determined to see them fail, and Rush and Roxy have limited resources. Can the dynamic duo help their new station thrive, prove the naysayers wrong, and pay attention to the mistletoe in the air, all while helping Rush’s children learn the true meaning of Christmas? It’s a tall order…but if you’ve seen even one made-for-TV Christmas movie, you know the answer.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
There’s nothing glaringly wrong here…I just didn’t find this a particularly interesting film. The story lines of Rush and Roxy trying to get their radio station off the ground and that of Rush trying to parent his children feel mostly separate until the end, which makes for a disjointed plot. Because the film has too much going on, neither of these stories, or the characters themselves, feel particularly fleshed out. As a result, a lot of the emotional moments don’t have the impact intended. There’s a rather cringey scene in which Rush talks to the ghost of his wife that failed to tug at my heart strings (and, honestly, verged on making me laugh).
Our leads are watchable (full disclosure: I adore Sonequa Martin-Green), though, and Auntie Jo is a fun addition to the family. However, they don’t get as much screen time as I would have liked, sharing the set with Rush’s four children. They’re honestly not the worst–though they are spoiled, it seems pretty clear that it’s the circumstances that have created bad behavior rather than that they are somehow “bad” kids. Even so, they get a bit more screen time than I would have liked, and very little personality development beyond being walking, talking Christmas wish lists.
However, it does check all of the boxes required of a made-for-TV Christmas film, and you could do worse while wrapping presents, trimming the tree, drinking mulled wine, and any other appropriately festive holiday activities you may choose.