'Countdown to Christmas' movie review: 'It's Christmas, Eve'

'Countdown to Christmas' movie review: 'It's Christmas, Eve'

The small-town holiday flick 'It's Christmas, Eve' (premiering on Hallmark Channel Nov. 10) doesn't have any high-concept holiday magic or fairy tale-like castles - and it's all the better for it.

In short: Interim school superintendent Eve (LeAnn Rimes) must fix the budget for a struggling school district - but that might mean slashing the music programs. Also stars Tyler Hynes and Gwynyth Walsh.

"Christmas, Eve" features a refreshingly straightforward story focused on an uncommonly complex protagonist for a Hallmark Channel movie. The worst Hallmark movie characters are one-dimensional monsters - they're either materialistic, selfish or some combination of the two. Typically they're just supporting characters - but a few Hallmark holiday movies are centered on narrow characters.

Eve is a different variation of Hallmark protagonist because her struggle isn't against some arch wicked co-worker or fighting over a man with some other overtly selfish woman - Eve is constantly in conflict with herself. She's dedicated to her job - which might mean putting her small town's music program under the ax. And her inner conflict is only bolstered by her musically-inclined past - one enmeshed with her deceased father's love of music. Yes, she eventually has to save the town's schools via music concert - but that's just the surface dilemma. Her real journey isn't one for love or even for the school - it's to reconnect Eve with the musical part of her childhood that she set aside in favor of her career.

This Hallmark Christmas movie isn't trying to break the mold with some crazy premise -- it merely and warmly executes a relatively down-to-earth story. Rimes and Hynes make a great pairing, both as two educators trying to save the arts and as a guy and girl drawn together by their common love of education, music and their small town. They don't rely on convenient plot

Final verdict: "Christmas, Eve" is a no frills story about a woman embracing her past to recreate her future. It lacks the trappings and tired plot turns that trip up other Hallmark stories - it's just a direct and focused story of a woman rediscovering a past love while finding a new love.

Score: 5 golden rings (out of 5)

'It's Christmas, Eve' premieres on Hallmark Channel Nov. 10 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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