Kat and Sam have a standing date: Elissa Beth’s Christmas table on Christmas Eve. Or, more precisely, at the kiddie table. From the title, the plot of the movie is easily guessed at from here: will Kat and Sam find Love at the Christmas Table?
The story unfolds as a series of sequences showing the relationship between Kat (Danica McKellar) and Sam (Dustin Milligan) evolve from their first meeting until Elissa Beth’s (Lea Thompson) Christmas kiddie table. The general crux is that they are soul-mates that have to wait for the timing to be just right for them to realize that. Along the way are ill-matched attempted romances, spats, and other assorted difficulties involved with both growing up and trying to convince yourself that falling for your friend isn’t the worst idea ever.
There is a delightful side romance between Kat’s widower father, Tom (Scott Paterson) and Elissa Beth. This pair illustrates the peril of being so respectful and non-chance taking that you might let romance, and life, slip you by. Not only does this serve as a counterpoint to the Kat/Sam plot, but enriches Kat’s story as well. Maybe it’s because I’m well past young love, but I actually enjoyed the Tom/Elissa Beth arc a little more even though it wasn’t fleshed out nearly as much.
For both Kat and Sam (but mostly Sam), there were the de rigueur antagonist love interest made in can-we-get-on-with-it-land. The arcs were mercifully brief, such is the nature of the vignette conceit, and served as little more than annoying roadblocks to the inevitable conclusion. Obvious and annoying but brief.
The same can sometimes be said of the storytelling in general. While the movie as a whole is pleasant, there is enough jumping around in time that it makes it tough to become full invested in the characters. As a viewer, you’re having to constantly catch up and figure out the relationships between the players in the youth-to-adult steps. Thankfully, the largest sequence was devoted to the climax. It was here where we could settle back and enjoy traditional linear storytelling up to and including the satisfying conclusion — though I felt the tag even as brief as it was, was a bit of a downer (though I’m sure opinions will vary on that).
Love at the Christmas Table is a fairly satisfying movie. While the romance aspect is tried and true, the flashback vignettes added a twist from traditional holiday fare. The cast is filled with actors who’ve already established names for themselves, so you are sort of pulling for them from the start. I happen to have a lower threshold for romantic annoyance than some, and wearied of the obligatory faux loves. I wanted to see Kat and Sam have a bit more romance, or at least friendship, than we got to see. It’s a hopeful film that I’ll definitely watch from time to time.
|3.25 of 5|