Excited to take the next step in their relationship and move in with her boyfriend, Stephanie is crushed when he drops the bombshell that he wants to break up. Faced with spending the holidays heartbroken and homeless, she decides to fly home to Connecticut. On a red-eye the day before Christmas, Stephanie finds herself seated next to Michael, who is planning to propose to his college girlfriend. The two get off to a rocky start but things get even worse when the pilot announces that a huge, unexpected snowstorm is crossing the country. Their flight is diverted to a small town in Montana where Stephanie snags the last available room at the town’s bed and breakfast. Despite their differences, she offers to share the room with Michael and try their best to get along.
I first heard of this film because of the effective promotion of the director, Peter Sullivan. As one who is a Hallmark aficionado, I am familiar with this director’s work, and I am so glad I paid attention to his promotions. When I first saw this film, I declared it my new favorite Lifetime Christmas film, but it is possible that Becoming Santa nudged it out of the top spot. Regardless, I am still fully impressed with this film, and I look forward to making it a Christmas tradition in our household.
Now, while it might be the oldest trick in the book, most films like this at Christmastime have someone who looks like Santa (and maybe really is Santa, for all we know), and he is responsible (or so are are led to believe) for all the mishaps (or coincidences) happening in just the way that they do. And stepping into the role is someone you might recognize from Hallmark’s popular Christmas film last year, Christmas Under Wraps. Brian plays Noel Nichols, and he seems to have a knack for always being around when unusual things happen which place the main couple in extraordinary circumstances. Brian is a long-time veteran of films with scores of works under his belt. In fact, perceptive viewers might remember him as far back as Groundhog Day. How could you not enjoy his uncomplicated but powerful portrayal of the man who may be an undercover Santa? Indeed, he adds a bit of joviality and unique perspective to the film and is unquestionably a clever addition to the cast.
This was the reason I was beyond ecstatic to see this film. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, I was an avid fan of Family Matters (in spite of my mother’s objections). Of course, I was drawn to the kids in the show, but the chemistry and interplay between these two as the perceptive and hard-working parents of the Winslow family etched these actors forever in my mind. In fact, when JoMarie was replaced in the final season of that show, it was never the same. Seeing the radiant return of these two (who genuinely look like they haven’t even aged) was like reliving a special part of my teenage/young adult years. As the couple that owns the inn where the hapless “duo” are forced to spend the night together, these two are impeccable. All the former chemistry came back, and every interaction, facial expression, and more was a reminder of the pleasure of yore.
How does Jo Marie do it? She appears to be as vibrant and accomplished as she always was. I admit I have not really followed her career since Family Matters, but I just may have to look up some more works that feature her as I found I was reminded of what a dynamic actress she is. And she has an exuberant smile that penetrates your soul and cannot help but make you smile in return. And, of course, Reginald is just as amazing, and together these two make a team that just cannot be thwarted. If by some chance you don’t think you’ll fancy the film, tune in for the antics of these two alone!
Of course, as far as I’m concerned, these are the two who absolutely make the film the delightful exhibition that it is. Unfortunately, I am entirely unfamiliar with the works of either of the actors, but there is no doubt that they are perfectly cast. Mayim plays the Jewish girl, Stephanie, who thinks that she has her whole life figured out until all her well-laid plans disintegrate. On the other hand, Ryan plays Michael, the successful eccentric who plans to marry the woman who is purportedly his ideal match, or is she? And the main premise of the film is that inclement weather diverts their flight, and now they are suddenly thrust together.
As an accidental couple, these two possess the distinct amount of awkwardness coupled with cautious curiosity. The more time they spend together, the more they realize that they may be each other’s soul mate. And oh, what a ride they carry us on. It is fraught with wholesome, entertaining humor, inconvenient situations, and of course, the matchmaking skills of the couple played by Marie and Joe. In fact, as they attempt to decipher what may lie in their futures, both find themselves turning to this twosome for direction.Thus, this is yet another time that Jo Marie and Reginald remind us of their characters on Family Matters. While they are not counseling teens, they are now advising young adults who assume they have their total life ordered, but now these youngsters are frustrated. And I believe it is Joe and Marie, who provide them with the advice they need to get on the right path. Oh, and be sure to watch the entire film as the conclusion just may astound you. If you give up five minutes before it’s over, you just may miss the delicious ending.
The multi-talented Mayim demonstrates her prowess in this role of Stephanie with plenty of heart and enthusiasm. I will be forthright–the beginning of the film had me worried because she spoke of moving in with her boyfriend. I would have put a parental warning on this review, but I can assure you there is no need for one. I won’t say why, but don’t let the opening turn extinguish your viewing of what is one of the most beloved Christmas films of 2015. With dexterous sincerity, Mayim depicts the confused but confident Stephanie. While I wasn’t sure I savored her character in the beginning, as the storyline progressed, and Stephanie embarked on her own journey to discover what she desires in life, I found myself adoring her. I empathized with her emotional struggles, and I only desired a festive ending for her character. Of course, the road doesn’t cease its twisting until the end of the film, but I was quite content to follow her story to its magnificent denouement.
Immediately, I was smitten with the wealthy and peculiar Michael as portrayed by Ryan. Every time he called his unseemly, dominating girlfriend, I cringed as I knew he didn’t belong with her. Of course, Stephanie lets Michael know in no uncertain terms that he and his girlfriend don’t belong together as she sees his tension and disinterest whenever he is on the phone with this other girl. While Ryan portrays Michael in such a way that the viewers may grapple to know what is transpiring in his mind and heart, that is exactly what should be expected from this character. He is the exact opposite of the effervescent Stephanie, thus ensuring a definitive match made in heaven.I was concerned when I realized that the two would be sharing a room, but let me assure the viewers that this couple has no inappropriate scenes. Oh, there is a shower scene, but I won’t ruin it for you. Trust me, it is hilarious, and you won’t mind if your kids observe this scene. In fact, I found Ryan’s characterization of Michael quite comical, for we know that whenever a geek is placed in uncomfortable positions, it will always equal scenes laced with laughter. Furthermore, Ryan portrays this character in such a way that he is genuine and sincere. He takes his own journey to self-discovery as he begins to comprehend exactly what he wants (and doesn’t want) in this rollercoaster ride called life. While he may not be the dashing, romantic hero that sometimes graces these films, his sensitive, caring nature as well as his willingness to listen makes him a worthy catch in my book. Moreover, Michael actually respects Stephanie (which is something to which she is quite unaccustomed).
In conclusion, I applaud every person involved with this film as it is sheer delight from the beginning all the way to its remarkable conclusion. Each actor involved has thoroughly immersed himself/herself into his/her part, and there is genuinely nothing that I found distracting nor objectionable.
I must congratulate both the director, Peter Sullivan, and the writer, Jennifer Notas Shapiro, as they both have given so much to make this film the massive success it is. I know of Peter’s work as he is what I call a “Hallmark regular,” and in truth, this film could have easily been a Hallmark film as it is family-friendly, and has an outstanding Christmas message. (I have had the pleasure of reviewing several of his works this holiday season.) I also salute Jennifer as the story is intelligently written. Additionally, when I looked at her writing credits, I was astounded to read that she also wrote A Christmas Melody, my favorite Christmas film for 2015 (and this one is unmistakably in the top ten). Indeed, she is one gifted lady.
In conclusion, while you might struggle at this point to see this film before the Christmas films leave us for the season, I do invite you to keep a lookout for this film as it is the perfect, relaxing vehicle for a movie night with popcorn and the family.
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