Hallmark's Holiday Greetings
So here's a simple question, what do you expect from a Hallmark romantic Christmas movie? Yes that's right a lot of sweetness, plenty of charm, a detachment from real life but a movie which radiates warmth. And that is everything you get from "The Christmas Card" a simple romantic made for TV Christmas movie which floats along, never deviating from the path of predictability but still manages to charm with its sweet tale of romance. In fact whilst the set up to "The Christmas Card" touches on the brave men who are on the frontline, fighting for their country everything else about this Christmas movie could have come out of any other movie, from the beautiful setting, the Christmassy scenes, the mischievous match making parents and a jealous boyfriend but none of it matters because it does what it sets out to do, put you in a good mood.
Whilst serving in Afghanistan, US Army sergeant Cody Cullen (John Newton - Alive) receives a Christmas Card from a young woman called Faith spelman (Alice Evans) in Nevada City, one of many which the parish sends to the men on the front line so that they can have a bit of home at Christmas. After his friend Jonesy is killed, Cody is put on leave and decides to pay a visit to Nevada City where he ends up meeting Faith as well as her parents when he saves her father Luke (Edward Asner - Out of the Woods) from a car accident. It doesn't take long for Luke to warm to Cody and offers him a place of stay and a job at their wood mill, whilst he also plays cupid trying to set Faith up with Cody despite the fact that she already has a boyfriend called Paul (Ben Weber) who just happens to be never there.
Now I have to say for maybe the first ten even fifteen minutes I was thinking that maybe "The Christmas Card" would be different to the normal saccharine filled Christmas movies which show up on TV. We have this set up of a young woman called Faith sending Christmas cards to the men fighting on the front line just so that they can get a bit of home whilst on duty in a foreign country. Yes the narration as Faith writes the card and the soft lighting is pure cheese but it feels different to what you expect.
But then after this interesting opening "The Christmas Card" settles down into familiar territory as we watch Cody roll into Nevada City and even before being introduced to Faith actually bumping into her giving us a sweet but obvious meet cute. And so from then on in it is all about Cody and Faith falling for each other, with Faith's dad and Uncle taking a shine to Cody and offering him work. But of course you have the complications and that comes in the form of never there and jealous boyfriend Paul who is threatened by Cody being around. It really is that obvious and the outcome, in fact many of the romantic scenes, can be predicted as soon as the set up is over.
The thing is, is that "The Christmas Card" delivers everything you expect from a romantic Christmas movie made for TV. It is sweet and often corny with some dialogue which borders on the cringe worthy, but then it is also charming and amusing thanks to Faith's father's romantic interference. And even if you can predict much of what happens it still radiates a warmth, you do hope that Cody and Faith get it together even though you know they will and you do enjoy all the standard romantic Christmas scenes from the tree selling through to the football game. In many ways director Stephen Bridgewater knew what he was working with and rather than trying to make it more than it really is settles for delivering just what the audience expects and hopes for.
As for the acting, well to be blunt the chemistry between Faith and Cody is quite slim, they may look good together and we can feel that Faith is in a romantic dilemma but the romantic spark is basically flickering. Having said that Alice Evans is the epitome of hometown loveliness as Faith and John Newton delivers restrained hunky as Cody making for stereotypical but enjoyable characters. But to be honest the real star of "The Christmas Card" is Edward Asner as Faith's father Luke because whilst it's all very obvious that he is trying to set Faith and Cody up it is all so much fun.
What this all boils down to is that "The Christmas Card" delivers everything you expect from a made for TV Christmas movie. It is all very obvious and frankly at times overly sweet but it delivers that romantic warmth and some pleasant Christmassy scenes to put you in the festive mood. It's by no means a great romantic Christmas movie but at the same time it's not terrible just very stereotypical of the genre.