One of the holidays given short shrift during holiday movie season is Thanksgiving. When they are made, it usually centers around the holiday feast. But what about the traditional parade? No, not the one in New York, the one in Chicago? When an enthusiastic parade coordinator finds herself butting heads with a corporate scrooge, holiday fireworks are bound to ignite.
To say that quirky, vintage-clothes-wearing Emily Jones (Autumn Reeser) loves putting on the Thanksgiving Day parade is like saying Santa like giving out a few gifts. She hopes this year’s festivities will be even better when her absentee marine biologist boyfriend Brian (Ben Cotton) returns with, she hopes, a proposal.
Enter Henry Williams (Antonio Cupo), a seemingly typical corporate type who arrives as a consultant to find ways of increasing the parade’s revenue. He also plans to tear down a famous bookstore in favor of something more trendy and lucrative — much to Emily’s chagrin.
From this setup we get a familiar yarn about grinches increasing their heart size and good girls learning to grow a backbone and not settling when true love is just around the next corner. Nothing earth-shattering, but pleasant. Setting the movie in Chicago instead of New York ads a subtle narrative change that helps breathe some new life into a safely told story.
My main complaint is a common one: the antagonist love interest. It’s hard to see why anyone who isn’t also a marine biologist would wait for a Brian. While it draws a clear line for comparison between the two suitors, it’s a bit insulting to the main character and, a little, to the audience. While far from the most egregious example out there, the creative team could have made the choice a little more difficult.
Some might be surprised that I rated the denouement fairly high given that it’s almost nonexistent. In this case, it was exactly the right amount. The story ends where it needs to end. Although it’s very brief, it doesn’t leave you feeling like more needs to be said or that you’d wished they’d done less.
All-in-all, this is pretty much what you’d expect. A nice movie that serves as a holiday appetizer, but just isn’t quite up to serving as a main course at the grown-up table. If you like straight-forward romantic holiday movies, give it try.
|3.25 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo: Copyright 2012 Crown Media Holdings, Inc./Photographer: Eike Schroter