Holiday Watch: Matchmaker Santa

Final Photo AssetsA pastry chef and her mismatched beau have trouble meeting up when Santa decides to strand her in a quaint town with her beau’s friend and co-worker while her boyfriend is trapped at his family lake house with his mother along with his high school sweetheart.

Melanie Hogan (Lacey Chabert) is a bakery owner and pastry chef who thinks she’s found the right guy in Justin. He also thinks he’s found the right woman in Melanie, so he sets up a business Christmas part at his family lake house so he can do business with pretty Melanie by his side as well as introduce her to his mother. Ah yes, the best laid plans….

It’s clear that Justin’s friend and co-worker Dean not only has a crush on Melanie, but is a better match. All she needs to do is see it — and Santa, AKA Chris, takes that as his mission after meeting her on a plane taking her to Justin. Justin gets preoccupied with business and sends Dean to pick up Melanie instead.

While Melanie and Dean deal with the quaint town and quirky residents of Buford Falls, Justin deals with his just arrived mother, Katherine (Mary-Margaret Humes) starts being encouraging with Justin’s business-oriented high school ex-girlfriend Blaire.

Santa interferes with both couples to keep them separated while the laws of mutual attraction start taking effect. After a while, they all become law-abiding romantic pairs: Justin with Blaire, and Melanie with Dean.

For a holiday romance, Matchmaker Santa does better than most in not being annoying. It accomplishes this by having the good matches be forced together, with minimal interaction with their counterparts — and then only by phone calls. This relieves the viewer of having to endure mismatched relationships for the bulk of the movie. Here, not only does our heroine get matched up fairly early, but her bad match also gets to have his still burning ember rekindled for his better match. As a result, we see the evolution of two romances instead of one growing at the expense of the other.

The quirky town of Buford Falls combined with a manipulative Santa added a bit of campy fun to the story. It was entertaining without being nauseating. It served as a complimentary setting for Melanie and Dean in contrast to the more staid, businesslike tone over at Dean’s lake house.

The climax was a little anti-climatic with the two couples facing each other and being all adult about everything. While annoyingly non-dramatic, it was mercifully brief.

On the whole, this is a relaxing holiday romance. Actually, it’s a double romance — something that works very well with this story. Whenever the focus is on Buford Falls, it feels like visiting with old friends. While the lake house isn’t quite as inviting, neither is it hostile. So, no matter where you end up in the story, it’s never a bad place to stay for a while.

  
Story:★★★¾☆ 
Acting:★★★¾☆ 
Antagonist:★★★¼☆ 
Denouement:★★¼ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 
3.5 of 5 

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

Photo: Crown Media

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