Laurel Springs is a small town with a problem: the economy. Huntslar and Associates is a big-developer with a solution: money. It’s clear that Huntslar isn’t the white knight it seems, but this is a town on the edge. They aren’t sure what to do. Maybe what they need more than money is The Christmas Spirit.
Certainly, the heart of the town is personified in Charlotte Hart (Nicollette Sheridan), a zealous reporter on leave (at her boss’ request) and staying with her brother’s family while he’s stationed overseas. Her foe is Daniel Huntslar (Bart Johnson), who is very eager to buy out the town and “improve” it. What he doesn’t say is what’s in it for him. Charlotte knows something’s not right and heads out to surprise him. He’s out to return a glove she dropped. Their cars smash into each other at a dangerous intersection, leaving them both in comas.
Charlotte and Daniel find out about their conditions when their spirits see their hospitalized bodies (like you do). So what do you do when you find out you’re non-corporeal? You talk to the first person who can see you. That would be Gwen Hollander (Olympia Dukakis), who many consider a bit of a wacko, but who is actually tired of having to deal with all the spirits who cross her path that no one else can see. She sees something special in Charlotte and sends her and Daniel to try to change things so they can return to their bodies.
Adventures, as they necessarily must, ensue. This is helped by Charlotte and Daniel learning how to interact with the physical world. With this ability, they help others and both try to push their agendas. When Charlotte learns the truth why Daniel’s company is so eager to buy out the town, she finally gets the upper hand and Daniel finds that not only is he fine with that, but helps her. Missions accomplished, they both awaken and share in the other, more usual Christmas spirit. Gwen notes, however, that Charlotte is still special.
As Christmas ghost stories go, this was a very solid one. You can’t help rooting for Charlotte. She’s a good person…spirit…ghost…whatever. Daniel, though, never becomes a really strong antagonist but still manages to be an entertaining foil for Charlotte as they spread their spirits around town. It’s hard to buy that he’s as cluelessly money-grubbing as stated, and his predictable moral turn came off as a little too convenient.
The thing to really cheer about is the ending. This is how big, tightly wrapped bows of endings are supposed to be. It may not be splashy, but we get resolution; we get connection. In short, I’d be ecstatic if the majority of holiday movies took this kind of care with how they wrapped things up.
The Christmas Spirit is a movie I’ll definitely drop in to watch. It doesn’t quite reach greatness, but it is very enjoyable. Nicollette Sheridan plays the role of Charlotte with a verve that was fun to see and fit the character perfectly. Daniel could have been layered better but was a nice companion. Watch it if it’s on.
|3.75 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo: Crown Media