Aspiring chef Callie Shaw has finally made it into a kitchen with a “name” chef…as a dishwasher. She wants nothing more than to make a good impression and keep a low profile — neither of which occurs when smitten David Manning enters her, without permission, into a contest against her new boss, setting up an Ice Sculpture Christmas.
Callie (Rachel Boston) and David (David Alpay) actually met when they were kids. Callie’s father worked at the country club where David’s father was a member, and they were watching an ice sculpture contest being held there. Now grown up, Callie is excited to be in a position to advance her career after a fair share of dues-paying. David, meanwhile, is going through the motions working with his father — more for love of his father rather than love of the work.
In the two weeks leading up to the competition, Callie spends a lot of time with David to make him into a viable ice-sculpting assistant. By spending so much time with Callie, David is dumping all of the work of an impeding deal onto his long-time friend, Brooke. Obviously, since this is a Christmas movie after all, David and Callie are drawn to each other. By the closing credits, they meet the challenges of the contest and their careers.
The compelling stories are those you don’t immediately expect, two of which center around Chef Gloria (Brenda Strong). Initially, you think she’s a TV-challenge hard-ass chef, but the movie takes care to give her character depth. Not only is she friends with Callie’s dad, Frank (Paul McGillion), but she becomes a very supportive mentor to Callie…and not just at the end of the piece.
David’s friendship with Brooke (Aliyah O’Brien) is also a highlight. At no point do think they are romantically entwined with each other. They are just best friends and have been for years. That she loves the work they do with David’s father while accepting that David’s interest is elsewhere gives us a supportive side-relationship that is too often played melodramatically.
Which brings us to Jen…Chef Gloria’s ambitious sous-chef wannabe. Her character drags down the story by being too much of a mustache-twirling villain (metaphorically speaking). She’s is the center of the weakest part of the story: Jen trying to undermine Callie by saying that David is involved with Brooke. Now, Callie is not only smart, but has been both warned about and witness to Jen’s machinations. That she chose this event to buy was Jen was selling was, sad to say, a lapse in the writing. If the character was less obviously manipulative, I think it would have sold better.
The score, at times, was a little sparse, giving us some emotionally dead scenes. The denouement was very lacking. While David helping Callie’s father could be a sort of pre-denouement, the main story itself pretty much stopped at the climax. While there was some resolution, it felt perfunctory. (Side note: it seemed like Callie and David’s public displays of affection at the end were a little bold for only being together for a couple of weeks.)
Ice Sculpture Christmas tried very hard to be a better movie than we got. Rachel Boston was her typical outstanding self. The friendship/mentor stories were very well done and fleshed out the characters nicely. Unfortunately, the threads didn’t quite weave together as well as they wanted to, sometimes because the tone changed when Ms Boston wasn’t adding her effervescence to the scene.
Except for the antagonist being the weak link, this is more of a case of a near-miss than anything actually going wrong. Overall, it’s a nice movie (albeit, not strongly tied to the season) that has some good character growth and relationships. It’s not something to change your plans for, but it’s not something to switch away from, either.
|3 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams