Thursday, December 17, 2015

Movie Review -- Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas

This is one of my favorite Hallmark Channel holiday movies (That's a new genre now, the "Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie" Man, I wish they made Halloween movies. That would be awesome!) It's sweet and funny and not as treacly or nonsensical as some of their other movies. That's because Debbie Macomber is a fantastic writer. Her characters are real people with real problems that get resolved in realistic ways.

Trading Christmas is no different Faith Ford plays a widowed mom with a college-aged daughter (Her character is called Emily, but, sorry, Faith Ford will always be Corky to me). Corky/Emily lives in Washington State and has a serious case of empty nest syndrome, which is exacerbated when her daughter, Heather, tells her that she won't be coming home to for Christmas.

Bummer. But Heather, who goes to Boston College, has a cute boyfriend with a house in sunny Arizona so who can blame her. Sure, mom has a gorgeous Victorian house which is perfect for Christmas, but a girl needs her Vitamin D, amirite?

Corky/Emily whines about her situation with her best friend Faith. I really like the way the movie treats Corky/Emily, who is one of my favorite romance tropes, The Responsible One. That's the kind of heroine who holds her family/family business/small town together. She's smart, level-headed, and reliable and she tends to wear jeans with sweater sets and pearls. Thanks to Responsible One heroines, Romancelandia has more cupcake bakeries per character than any other literary genre (cozy mysteries, which has a plethora of Responsible Ones sleuths is a close second).

But what happens to The Responsible One when the family/family business/small town no longer needs her? That's Emily/Corky's problem. Faith tells her to take advantage of the situation and have some fun for a change. Faith is that well-loved romance novel staple, The Fun One.

Following Faith's advice, Emily/Corky decides to do something impulsive. She registers for a house swap. Her chosen locale is Boston where she plans to visit Heather.

Ooops, Heather didn't tell that she went to Arizona with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Faith decides to do something responsible for a change and visit her bummed out friend in Washington State. I like that there's two heroines in this movie. I think it keeps the movie moving. One problem with romance novel adaptations is that the romance plot that makes up the bulk of the book really isn't enough to carry a movie or a TV show. The supporting characters need to do more.

Ooops, Emily/Corky didn't tell her that she was going to Boston. Sorry, Faith, guess you're stuck in the boondocks with nothing to do.

Or are you?

Hilarity (and romance) ensues. There's two cute brother, one of which is an author with a serious case of writer's block, annoying neighbors, and plenty of misunderstandings.

The movie is funny ("I'm in Whoville! I should have done more research,) is heartwarming, but not cloying. It also has a fantastic Victorian house (seriously, I lust after Emily/Corky's stove) and plenty of gorgeous holiday decorating. I highly recommend it. It joins Twelve Trees of Christmas, Christmas Under Wraps, and Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (I didn't write a Grumpy Cat review last year? Shame on me!) in my pantheon of great contemporary Christmas movies.

Photo by Hallmark Channel.