As promised, Thursday is filled with really quality Holiday films. None of which one should refer to as a “classic”. The sub-grouping of “made for TV” movies deserve a real consideration. If they are the right made for TV movies. Debbie Macomber, who has made our schedule previously with the Mrs. Miracle franchise reappears today. Along with movie that loosely chronicles a Christmas in the young life of one of America’s greatest contemporary painters. There are no specials, animated films, or as I mentioned, unquestioned classics. Thursday would be a great day to discover some of these lesser known but still quality movies you may not be as familiar with.
Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas. This Macomber gem follows the Christmas plans of four adults and two college kids. Emily is a widow and mother to Heather (college kid). Faith is Emily’s close friend. Charles and Ray are brothers. Charles decides to escape the noise by house swapping with Emily. Emily decides to surprise Heather who is no longer in Boston. She and her boyfriend hopped a plane to Arizona. Faith decides to surprise Emily not knowing that Charles will be in Emily’s house. Emily meets Ray unintentionally and they spend some time together. With they’re completely opposing backgrounds and temperaments, how will they make it through the holiday?
The Ultimate Gift. James Garner is the wealthy patriarch of a spoiled family. He prepares a video will to be executed exactly to his specifications. Most of the family get not much if anything. His grandson is particularly jaded. He lives the life of a relative playboy heir. Grandpa Stevens plan is to set his grandson on a journey that will teach him all the lessons (or impart ‘gifts’) that will turn Jason Stevens into the man he’s supposed to be. If he follows the will to the letter, he gets everything. There’s also a cute little girl who will impact his life more than he knows.
A Christmas Visitor. William Devane plays George a family man who cannot let go of the loss of his son on the battlefield. His daughter fights for life as she could be facing a terminal illness. The confirmation of which won’t be received until after Christmas. Which only complicates things as this family has not celebrated Christmas in 11 years. The catalyst of which is the death of their military son on Christmas 11 years ago. A stranger strolls through town who served in the same place and time that took their son. Is he a friend, an acquaintance, or is there something much deeper at play?
Thomas Kinkade’s A Christmas Cottage. This falls into that category of must see (at least once) made for TV Christmas movies. The cast alone is impressive for what it is. The young Thomas Kinkade is played by none other than Supernatural’s own, Jared Padalecky. His brother, Aaron Ashmore (who played the son who died in A Christmas Visitor), Their mother is played by Marcia Gay Harden. Young Kinkade’s mentor is played by Peter O’Toole. With a smattering of other names you might or might not be familiar with. Ed Asner, Chris Elliot, Richard Moll, Kiersten Warren , and Richard Burgi just to name a few. This is the story of two sons doing whatever they can to save their childhood home facing foreclosure. In the process endearing themselves to the community. This one really shouldn’t be missed. As a huge fan of Thomas Kinkade’s artwork, I may be biased.
The Christmas Card. This one made an appearance on yesterday’s list. The gist of it is Sgt. Cody Cullen receives a Christmas Card from a stranger and decides to seek her out.
Holiday in Handcuffs. I may enjoy this one a little more than I should. Melissa Joan Hart plays Gertrude who kidnaps David Martin played by Mario Lopez. Her master plan being that she will convince him to pretend to be her boyfriend and thus avoid the shame and ridicule that would inevitably ensue if she showed up without her boyfriend, which she no longer has. Simultaneously, while Gertie is worried that she is the only source of disappointment for her family, she discovers that both of her siblings are equally disappointing. At least according to their father’s plan for them.
A Princess for Christmas. Katie McGrath plays Jules, who is in charge of caring for her late sister’s children. Her late sister was married to Charles, Prince of Castlebury. An arrangement that Edward the Duke of Castlebury (played by one time James Bond, Roger Moore) was never alright with. Paisley Winterbottom (the butler) seeks out Jules to invite her and the kids to spend the holiday with their royal family. You don’t need a great deal of context clues to decipher what comes next.
The Santa Clause. Yes, that Santa Clause. This is story of the actual Santa Claus falling off Tim Allen’s roof and thus invoking the Santa “Clause”. The cast is good. The production value is good. My hesitation about this movie is that it spends too much time with the effect becoming the real Santa has on Scott Calvin’s life and not enough on the whimsical part of being Santa. That said, I still consider this a very worthwhile movie. My problem is that it’s what I call a Fast Forward movie. Having seen every minute of it, I can and would fast forward through a decent amount of this movie.
Fred Claus. Any best of list you’re likely to find will not include Fred Claus. And to be honest, I really don’t know why that is. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously with plenty of Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti style comedy. As the story goes, Fred (brother of Santa Claus) travels to the north pole (with his own selfish agenda in mind) to help his brother get through the final push towards Christmas. The story complicates when a consultant (Kevin Spacey) comes to analyze and hopefully for him, shut down Christmas.