In The Thanksgiving House, lawyer Mary Ross gets hit with two surprises: that she has inherited a house in Plymouth, Massachusetts which holds several memories for her; and that a local historian is 99.9% certain that it sits on the site of the first Thanksgiving feast. Not keen on possibly being the proud owner of a historical site, Emily does what she can to stave off that possibility while fighting less hard to avoid the nice-guy historian and his all-too-lovable family.
There’s no doubt that Mary (Emily Rose) and clean-cut historian/teacher Everett Mather (Justin Bruening) are the brewing romance. It doesn’t help that Mary is seeing hasn’t-see-a-profit-opportunity-he-didn’t-want-to-jump-on steak restauranteur Rick (Adam Kaufman), and all he wants to talk about are the opportunities to make money. She is also saddled with fighting an unscrupulous postal worker who feeds intel to the town’s opportunistic rumor blogger. Fortunately, Everett’s parents Parker and Abigail (Bruce Boxleitner and Lindsay Wagner) are so charming and inviting that Mary can’t help but befriend them.
The core of this movie makes for comforting holiday fare. A slow, natural new romance aided by a Rockwell-esque family showcasing two familiar and beloved actors. The stumble comes from the antagonists: Rick, the postal worker, and the rumor blogger. They are lacking so much depth, calling them 2-d might be generous. How much better it would have been had they been flawed in character instead of flawed in execution. The needed dramatic conflict could have been a little less…sleazy is the word that frequently came to mind.
Because the budding romance and the family message was sufficiently sublime, the movie still entertains. You root for Mary and Everett to get together. The Mathers are so welcoming — without a hint of treacle — it’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t want to be adopted by them. Plus, it’s great to see smart people just being people — kudos to the creative team for that. The denouement with the villains was mercifully brief and with the leads it had enough small bumps and small dangling threads that it felt grounded and satisfying.
If you are willing to sit through the profiteer mentality of the antagonists, the rest of the movie puts out enough warmth that makes it decent enough holiday fare, especially for Thanksgiving.
|3.25 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo: Crown Media