'Countdown to Christmas' movie review: 'Christmas in Love'

'Countdown to Christmas' movie review: 'Christmas in Love'

The holiday flick 'Christmas in Love' (premiering on Hallmark Channel Nov. 11) lazily leans too hard on its "opposites attract" and "cold businessman is going to fire small town folk" elements to tell much of a story, and certainly not one that brings anything new to the table.

In short: Aspiring crafter Ellie (Brooke D'Orsay) is comfortable working at her small town's bakery - when big-city executive Nick (Daniel Lissing) visits the bakery, with big plans to modernize the tightly-knit company with ideas that could result in layoffs.

The first bad sign - the story doesn't really take shape until after the first commercial break. It's just a vague framework filled with some pratfalls and adorable baking. But … the story never really takes a solid shape - which is a problem for any movie.

Very little about this story has much depth or dimension. Ellie wants to live in San Francisco, loves to craft and adores her small town. Nick lives in San Francisco, is more comfortable behind a desk and would happily automate everyone out of a job. But these aren't convincing character traits - they're merely surface character details.

"Christmas in Love" has some well-meaning sentiments about pursuing a dream instead of settling, but it gets pretty heavy-handed with its idyllic small town life - even by Hallmark Channel standards.The whole of Nick is essentially defined by his not-so-subtle intention to replace the tightly knit crew of bakers with robots. The only other role Nick serves is to push Ellie toward her passion - and in this role, he's merely a plot device.

Most telling of all: 'Christmas in Love' falls into the same trap that other rudderless Hallmark stories stumble into - its third act is dictated by a lazy and convenient misunderstanding. What's worse - it's one that Ellie stumbles upon. The lamest 'Countdown to Christmas' third acts are initiated by someone only hearing the bad half of a conversation or seeing something they weren't supposed to see. It's a weak way to pad the runtime and force characters to unwind a pointless conflict.

Any movie that doesn’t try to tell a new Hallmark holiday story should flesh out it characters vividly. But thin characters in an uninspired story is a death blow to any movie

Final verdict: Other Hallmark Channel films have done the "heartless executive finds his heart" and "career woman takes a risk" stories better in other Countdown to Christmas movies. D'Orsay's relentless charm keeps the film aglow and buoyant, and saves it from being a total loss.

Score: 2 turtle doves (out of 5)

'Christmas in Love' premieres on Hallmark Channel Nov. 11 and will play throughout The Countdown to Christmas. This romance is rated TV-G and has a running time of 2 hours.

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