Holiday Watch: Hats Off to Christmas!

You know that feeling when you work hard, expect a deserved promotion, but ending up having to train someone else? That pretty much sums up Hats Off to Christmas!

hats off to christmas 880366 800Mia Winters (Haylie Duff) is the hard-working assistant manager of a Christmas-themed mostly-hats shop called “Hats Off to Christmas!” She hopes to be promoted but finds out that she is instead expected to train the owner’s big time consultant son, Nick Bowers (Antonio Cupo), in how the business works.

Nick is about as cluelessly arrogant as you’d expect, but bends to Mia’s charms soon enough. He also starts to bond with Mia’s son Scotty (Sean Michael Kyer), who is wheelchair bound since the accident that also killed is father. He helps Scotty with pumpkin carving, football, and building a soapbox racer. This obviously contributes to Nick’s growing bonds with Mia.

The fly in the romantic ointment here is Valerie Fry (Kendra Anderson), Nick’s former high school “friend” who is also the bank’s representative to the store. They work together to try to salvage the company; their main idea is to close the brick-and-mortar store and take everything online. It’s during one of these meetings that Mia overhears a fraction of the discussion and draws some ill-informed conclusions that lead to her breaking up with Nick and resigning from the store.

In the end, Nick and Val agree to a way to save the store, Scotty takes some steps, and Nick is pleased to accept Mia’s culpa (sorry…but the pun was sitting right there).

This movie is tough to review. It has all the elements: romance, heartwarming subplot, miscommunications, etc., but it doesn’t quite gel. It feels a little cobbled together. I don’t remember seeing a satisfactory explanation why Nick is so drawn to Scotty. It seems like there should be some major backstory element there.

Some of the choppiness can be due to the extended timeframe. The movie stretches from pre-Halloween to Christmas time. This is out of the ordinary for your typical holiday film. While this generally helps the romance which progresses at a more realistic pace than usual, the rest of the story suffers because there aren’t enough transitional scenes tying everything together. This isn’t helped by the store which makes the view always think the story is set around Christmas.

I think Val was done reasonably well. While somewhat villainous, she fits with Nick as he was introduced. She turns out to be very reasonable regarding the store and Nick’s wishes.

The ending was complete even with the brief denouement, but in this case it doesn’t seem to be as much a liability as with other films.

Hats Off to Christmas! is one of those movies I won’t rush to change the channel on if it shows up, but if I have something else to watch, I will. I’ve seen similar movies that are more engagingly complete. I didn’t love it, but your mileage/meterage may vary.

3 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

Photo: Crown Media

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