A while ago, I discovered a two DVD set of two Lifetime Christmas movies. The movies peaked my interest, so I purchased the DVD to watch. Since then, I watched the movies and decided to write reviews about them.
The first movie I watched is called A Christmas in Tennessee. It stars Rachel Boston, Andrew Walker, Kate Moyer, and Bill Essiembre with Caroline Rhea, and Patricia Richardson. It is about Allison Bennet (Boston), a single mother of a daughter that lives in White Pines, a fictional small town in Tennessee’s mountains. She lives in the same building as a bakery she and her mother (Richardson) run together. As Christmas grows closer, Allison, who is struggling to keep up with her bills because of slow business, meets Matthew (Walker), a real estate broker who, with his very pushy and opportunistic assistant, works at a development firm that wants to buy the whole town of White Pines and turn it into a high end ski resort. At the same time, Allison’s daughter’s letter to Santa Claus, which asks to bring more business to the bakery, blows away. The loss of the letter eventually leads a woman with white hair that looks similar to Mrs. Claus (Rhea) to visit the bakery with the intention of finding cookies that she and her husband can offer to guests at their Christmas Day party.
I was very curious to watch this movie not only because the story sounded cute, but because it is a Lifetime Christmas movie. The Lifetime channel, as well as other channels and video on demand platforms, started releasing their own Christmas movies similar in style to the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies a few years ago. I really wanted to watch other Christmas movies that are not by Hallmark for a while, but I didn’t find a movie that caught my eye. (Most part the movies that peeked my interest had horrible reviews) Christmas in Tennessee was the exception.
The movie is very cute with a feel good story that has a happy ending. It shares many similarities to the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, but it still keeps the story style different enough to make it stand out from Hallmark’s. Most of the differences between Lifetime’s movie and it’s Hallmark counterparts are subtitle and easy to miss unless someone is focused on the movie or watched so many Hallmark movies the differences become more obvious. One of the major differences I can see is the way the story unfolds. It’s more complicated and detailed than many of Hallmark’s.
In the story, Allison is a single mother after her boyfriend leaves her after she becomes pregnant with her daughter. There were hits that Allison thought there would be an eventual marriage, but that never happened. This kind of back story, as well as the pressure Matthew’s boss puts on him and the conniving ways of his assistant, is not something found in Hallmark movies or, if it is, these parts of the story are passed over or toned down until it isn’t a major drive or has an influence of the story line.
I like Hallmark’s movies, but I really like the complexity of this movie’s story. By allowing the character’s backstories and their actions to show more obviously, Lifetime made me want to sit down and actually focus on the movie. The balance between the more realistic, non religious actions of some of the characters do not take away from the story. Instead, it makes it more complicated and creates tension in a way many of Hallmark’s movies do not. Even though I enjoy the more complicated story, it is by no means a very deep, hard to process Christmas movie. It carries a balance between the tensions of the character’s motives for actions and the lighter, family friendly story very well. With the inclusion of more of the character’s feelings and history, it helps the viewer see and understand why certain characters act the way they do and why they change their feelings and/or attitudes. The addition of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus gave a needed lighthearted balance between the more serious story and the fact this is supposed to be a lighthearted Christmas movie.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for an alternative to the Hallmark movies or wants to watch a family friendly movie with a more complicated story. It is also great for anyone who doesn’t mind watching Christmas movies with a positive view of families and love even though the family comes together in an unconventional way.