Where I Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description Provided By: International Digital Center
Written By: CJ Hardy
Initially, I was interested in this film because I’ve become a fan of Justin hArtley after he learned how to act on This Is Us. but then, I noticed this film was directed by Charles Schrier, who actually has legit film credits. this isn’t just some random director known for churning out Christmas movies for Hallmark or Lifetime every year, but rather from the writer/director of Baby Boom and Father Of the Bride part 2. Sure, he’s not Spielberg, but he’s proven himself adept at theatrical box office hits. We don’t usually get that in these random holiday films.
Hartley plays an author, who the film relentlessly reminds us is hot, who has a death in the family and has to go home and tie up loose ends. This is also where he meets a young woman seeking to understand her past, and as the two commiserate they soon decide this mystery is worth a road trip. it’s one of those stealth romances where the characters aren’t initially in love, but the journey guides them… or does it? There’s a third act twist that keeps the film somewhat from being methodical.
My biggest problem, and this has taken me some thought, is the persistence of Hartley’s hotness. Like, several scenes in the film are devoted to his scorching hotness like he’s Bo Derek in 10. I know we’ve objectified many people before in the past, and there are whole movies about how hot someone is. it doesn’t feel like that is where our culture is headed, as we objectify a lot less, and through that this film becomes some silly dalliance when it could be an interesting road trip film. Instead of two people learning more about each other, Hartley’s potential love interest is reminded how hot he is, which isn’t what her story is about. She has a boyfriend, and this idea that she could be so lucky to have a guy as hot as him detracts from her story. I’m unfamiliar with the actress, and her looks, but I’m betting she’s not bad either. Hammering home this hotness quotient is entirely unnecessary.
There are moments in here where Schrier wrote scenes that will convince you this is a theatrical release, but then a few choices remind you that they didn’t quite have the budget, and the emphasis on quality wasn’t really there. I’m sure Netflix was excited to have someone of his caliber directing, but he ends up with a rather average Christmas film.
The audio description from CJ HArdy is fine, as he has to focus quite a bit on Harley’s dog, as it is in most scenes, and obviously can’t speak for itself. But it does do some things that pertain to the plot, which is why the audio description is necessary here.
if you’re looking for a Christmas film, you could do worse.
Final Grade: B-