Christmas in the Clouds (2001)
On Cloud Nine
That plot outline below for "Christmas in the Clouds" makes it sound like quite a typical confusion comedy, you know where one person thinks another person is someone else and that is exactly what it is. But where "Christmas in the Clouds" is differentis that it features a predominantly Native American cast. That is not the only difference because writer and director Kate Montgomery is not just churning out a comedy, she gives us characters which radiate warmth and jokes whilst predictable are not just tossed in for the sake of it which makes "Christmas in the Clouds" pleasantly charming.
Christmas is coming as former Chief Joe Clouds on Fire (Sam Vlahos) has romance on his mind as he has been writing to a widow in New York called Tina Littlehawk (Mariana Tosca) who wants to come and visit. Joe's son Ray (Timothy Vahle) is the general manager of the Sky Mountain resort who returned home after his marriage failed and is eagerly waiting the arrival of a secret inspection from a mystery travel critic who is coming to check the resort out. To say nothing goes as planned is an understatement as when Tina arrives the desk clerk and Ray think she is the critic, Tina thinks Ray is the man who has been writing to her as she sees a letter from her in his pocket, one Joe dropped earlier. And as for Stu (M. Emmet Walsh) the mystery critic, well they think he is just another miserable and untidy traveller who could never be a professional critic.
So as I said "Christmas in the Clouds" is your typical confusion comedy where we have various characters who are mistaken for other people and some simply quirky characters. As such the whole confusion comedy of Tina thinking Ray is the man who has been writing to her whilst Ray thinks Tina is a mystery travel guide critic is not that original nor is the unsurprising romance which comes with it but it works. It works because Timothy Vahle as Ray and Mariana Tosca as Tina radiate warmth, every time Ray bigs up one of the resorts many facilities from a roaring fire to a heated pool you smile because he says the lines with a sense of belief and charm rather than just tossing them out for comedy effect. The whole confusion thing extends further than Ray and Tina as we also have Stu the real travel guide writer who not only ends up in a lousy little room but has a misadventure with a mouse.
But alongside all the confusion we get the quirky from Betty, a member of staff with spiked hair to Earl the chef who has become a vegetarian. In fact Graham Greene's performance as Earl is brilliant and the restaurant scene where he talks to the customers about the meat and tells them the name of which animal was killed is priceless especially an in-joke surrounding a Buffalo who had a part in "Dances with Wolves". There are a lot more of these wonderful lines including some humour about a guest asking how to say things in Native American and needless to say is tricked in to learning some dubious phrases.
The thing about all of this is that writer and director Kate Montgomery obviously loves these characters that she has created and even those who only have a small role are nicely written. As such be it when you are watching Ray and Tina or old Joe and his schemes or young Phil and his attraction to the ski bunnies all these characters are easy to warm to and smile at and with. Add to this a great location, no an absolutely amazing location and it is extremely easy to fall in love with "Christmas in the Clouds" despite not being the most original.
What this all boils down to is that "Christmas in the Clouds" is not the most original of movies but is it special. It is a romantic comedy which has warmth and heart rather than just throwing cliche jokes at the audience because that is what is expected. In fact the characters are so well written, so well acted and the location is so stunning that I would love a return to the Sky Mountain resort.
Tags: Christmas Movies
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