In A Christmas Wedding Tail, two dogs are the reason a job-seeking widow with three young boys meets and has a romance with a widower vintner with two girls. It’s a match made in “what could possibly go wrong” land?
Jennie Garth stars as Susan in this light romance that finds her falling for a pretty doggone romantic winery owner (Brad Rowe as Jake). Well…it tries to be a light romance, but it really plays like a sitcom pilot that is being stretched to movie length. Even though this movie is flawed in that way, there is still a very watchable core that keeps this from being a pan.
The blended family situation is what makes this movie watchable. That story, though under-told, is fairly solid. Even though you have the predictable problems of each adult trying to get the other’s kids to bond with them, it’s structured in a way that doesn’t make it seem too manipulative—just a little manipulative.
Perhaps the best parts of the film were when Susan and Jake were auditioning/interviewing bands and planners for the wedding. I’m talking about just the Susan and Jake parts here. There was real chemistry here…like you were seeing two people being people. I don’t know how much, if any, was ad-libbed, but the result was great.
For me, the movie’s buzz-kill is Tom Arnold’s over-the-top headhunter who is trying to arrange a new job for Susan to curate at a prestigious museum…across the country in NYC. The loud and abrasive Arnold is the plot device to cause conflict between Susan and Jake at the nuptials approach. If you remove that from the film, only a little creativity is required to create conflict without ruining the tone of the story.
The five children in the story all have their emotional baggage, much of it glossed over. The youngest boy, in particular, is having a problem coping since his father’s death. This should have been the drama of the story: the children. By expanding this plot while also removing Arnold’s sub-plot, the creative team could easily have added enough story to remove the many minutes of filler that were inserted to bring the show to length.
Like many romance stories, the Christmas aspect is pretty tangential. If it were centered around Easter, or Arbor Day, there wouldn’t be much that needed to be changed. Likewise, the dog manipulation, while cute, wasn’t quite as effective as I’m sure it seemed like it would be in concept.
A Christmas Wedding Tail is disappointing only in that the good bits are quite watchable and the rest is a wasted opportunity. This movie could have been the touching, lighthearted, family romance it clearly wanted to be. Unfortunately, a lack of enough story and a loud sub-plot weakened its ability to engage this viewer. It came so close. If they follow up and do a sequel, and smooth out the rough spots, I’ll definitely be there.
|2.25 of 5|
Photo: Hallmark Channel
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies