The Christmas Calendar: Review by Kai
The Christmas Calendar - 2017
Director: Allan Harmon
Writers: Cookie Boyle, Walter Sawadsky
Stars: Laura Bell Bundy, Brendon Zub, Paloma Kwiatkowski
WILL I LIKE THIS MOVIE?
If you are looking for a very safe, non-offensive movie then I will give you a hard "Maybe?"
I am not in the target demo for this type of movie: Schmaltzy mass produced Canadian Christmas TV movies. During the holidays my wife and mother-in-law are squarely in that demographic so I am unable to readily avoid them. There are dozens piling up on our DVR from the Hallmark channel, Lifetime and UPtv. These TV movies are churned out for the holidays like canned ham. The director, Allan Harmon not only directed The Christmas Calendar but four other Christmas related TV movies in 2017 and 2018. Prolific!
The principle behind these seem pretty simple. People are home for the holidays, lets give them something to focus on that has nothing to do with politics, violence or sex.
Here is the entirety of the plot:
Emily's unsuccessful bakery is forcing the bank to foreclose on her (formerly her Grandmother Nonna's) house. Emily then receives an advent calendar from a "secret admirer" which contains one "hint" a day as to the sender's identity. This somehow makes front page news in the town every single day of December.
The Supermarket across the street opens a competing bakery complete with a love interest rival baker with a hilariously French accent.
Luckily the incompetent Supermarket manager forgot to get a food preparation license for the Supermarket Bakery which is promptly shut down saving the day for our protagonist.
We find out the calendar is actually from Emily's deceased Grandma Nonna who visits them on Christmas eve but only the innocent eyes of a child can see Ghost Nonna.
The thing that gripped my imagination the most was the people of this town were obsessed with the identity of the sender. The daily front page coverage and speculation about the calendar is not completely surprising as it knocked a story about a dog that had a lot of puppies below the fold.
Mystery Advent Calendar is a detail that your grandmother would key on and probably accept as a major plot point. In fact if you want to get a feel for the tenor of this movie, imagine your oldest relative resolutely explaining a story about an antiquated custom that happens during December but isn't exactly about Christmas at length.
Other details surface that this is Grandma-centric fare like the fact that the mayor reflexively denies that there is any crime in the town whatsoever.
Emily and inevitable love interest/rival baker Gerrard actually have the best scene in the movie where they make chocolate ganache truffles together. Its well shot, shows some of the complex steps of confectionery and actually made me want some.
DID KAI LIKE IT?
I kept myself entertained. At a point I thought the only way the locals were THIS committed to caring about an advent calendar was that the lead reporter was not actually a reporter but had severe dementia and everyone played along as hard as they could so he wouldn’t freak out. This wasn't helped by the fact that the reporter declared that he is also the mayor.