Monday, December 22, 2014


Kathy (Kellie Martin) is a widow in a small Pacific Northwest town; her husband died earlier in the year and she has been trying valiantly to keep his small bicycle shop going, but even with only one employee, it's been tough, especially when the owner of a neighboring shop wants to buy her out of her lease. She'd really like to start a cookie baking business but her loyalty to her husband has kept her in the bike shop. Tim (Cameron Mathison), who is nursing a broken heart—his long-time girlfriend left him recently—sells Christmas trees and runs a Christmas gift shop on the side, and is about to achieve his dream of owning a Christmas tree farm around which he will build a mini-theme park. Jenna (Jewel Staite), Kathy's best friend, is trying to get Kathy to celebrate the holidays but Christmas was a big deal for Kathy and her husband—he would even order special ornaments months in advance for her—and she doesn't feel ready to decorate a tree. However, when Jenna takes Kathy to Tim's tree lot, she and Tim hit it off right away. Slowly, Kathy begins to thaw, and the charming, understanding Tim doesn't try to pressure her. She puts up a tree and decorates it, and even accepts a new butterfly-angel ornament from Tim for the top of the tree. But when Tim's ex comes back to town, everything falls apart. Will Tim be able to convince Kathy that he only has eyes for her? And what will happen to the bike shop?

This is, on the surface, not much different from the run-of-the-mill made-for-TV Christmas movie. But it has several small pleasures that set it apart: the light tone is perfect—it's not a serious melodrama and there is a blessed lack of forced comedy—the two leads have a nice chemistry, and the Christmassy feel of the town is just right, not ridiculously over the top. There are no kids to clutter up the adult story (well, there is one kid who helps out at the Christmas tree lot but he's unobtrusive and even amusing); I have nothing against kids in Christmas movies, but when they're shoehorned in, it usually shows. Martin has the right feel of someone who is stressed but not depressed, and Mathison is charming, handsome and rugged-lite—he also frequently has an intense look in his eyes that, in the beginning, made me think the movie was going to take a strange turn and reveal his character as a serial killer. For a relatively realistic story, the plot takes a slightly magical turn near the end, but I think all good Christmas movies need a touch of magic. Recommended. [DVD]

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