In The Christmas Ornament, Kathy Howard struggles to keep open the bicycle shop she and her late husband owned. The holiday season has arrived and she’s not in the mood to celebrate her husband’s favorite holiday now that he’s gone. Since this is a holiday movie, we can’t have that.
Jenna (Jewel Staite), Kathy’s best friend, is excellent as a shoulder to lean on — a little bit pushy but knows when to back off. Jenna drags Kathy to a Christmas tree lot — Jenna still needs a tree even if Kathy refuses one. In the lot’s new gift shop, Jenna meets the owner, Tim (Cameron Mathison) who is both hunky and understanding. Later, sensing an opportunity, Jenna buys a tree that Tim delivers to Kathy because there’s no way she’s going to refuse.
From here, it’s a pretty well-paced comfortable romance. They rendezvous at the skating rink they use in the morning. Tim closes on a tree farm to try to achieve his dream. Kathy changes course and decides to follow her obvious passion instead of the bike store. Despite a third act complication, it turns out well.
Let me get the late complication out of the way: the ex-girlfriend returns. I love how her appearance was short and her exit was mature, but during this brief detour I felt Tim acted rather un-Tim-like and Kathy was much too eager to toss in the towel. It felt a little too forced by the creative team and took me out of the story. They got me back but lost a lot of the momentum they had built up.
I feel it necessary to give two explicit kudos. First, the score. There are scenes where lonely Kathy comes home to an empty house. Too often this is played without backing. While it’s supposed to add verisimilitude and evoke a sense of loneliness, it mostly comes off as the producers being too-cheap-to-score. Here, there is music. It ably conveys alone-ness without imposing starkness. Second kudo to Jewel Staite. Being a fan of Ms Staite’s for years, I was happy to see her here. As a fan of holiday movies, I was thankful that she brought so much to what could have been a run of the mill supporting character. Early in the movie, when Kathy is relatively depressed, Jewel’s very compassionate Jenna is the source of emotion and audience connection. She keeps the first act going.
Except for the stumble with the ex as well as the titular ornament (which, to be honest, was a little contrived), the movie built nicely and responsibly. Tim and Jenna are instantly likable, and Kathy becomes someone you really start to root for to be happy. The Christmas Ornament is a solid holiday romance that isn’t over-the-top that will satisfy many.
|3.25 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo: Crown Media