Dec 6, 2014

Review: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (2008)

So continuing on with the worst that TV has to offer, we got The Most Wonderful Time of the Year up next courtesy of The Hallmark Channel. This is the movie that has single-handedly turned director Michael Scott into a Christmas TV movie zombie. Since directing TMWTotY he's made a slew of other holiday TV movies such as Mrs. Miracle and its sequel Call Me Mrs. Miracle. I vividly remember sitting through both of these movies last year and not in a good way.

Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame is along for the ride in a role where he plays a goofy retired cop. I remember Brooke Burns from the awesomely awful Titanic II that The Asylum put out, but that's pretty much it for actors that I know in this one. I wonder if the song It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year will be part of the soundtrack...

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Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Directed by: Michael Scott
Produced by: Harvey Kahn, Michael Scott, Dan Wigutow, etc.
Written by: Bruce Graham
Music by: Philip Giffin
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: The Hallmark Channel, Dan Wigutow Productions, KZ Productions, etc.
Distributed by: The Hallmark Channel, Hamdon Entertainment
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Brooke Burns, Henry Winkler, Warren Christie, Connor Christopher Levins, Woody Jeffreys, Serge Houde, Rebecca Toolan, Michael Roberds, Rukiya Bernard, Jennifer Clement, Vanesa Tomasino, Lauro Chartrand, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Sonya Anand, Sian Sladen, Lynn Colliar

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Synopsis


Jennifer Cullen (Brooke Burns) is a successful single mom with a son (Connor Christopher Levins) who wants just one thing for Christmas: a RocketWheel bicycle. Jennifer finds out that it's the season's hottest toy and unfortunately proves difficult to find. She's also trying to figure out if being with her boyfriend Richard Windom (Woody Jeffreys) is the best thing for her. Things get even more complicated when her uncle Ralph (Henry Winkler) who comes to visit for the holidays brings along a handsome but complete stranger (Warren Christie) who he met on the plane.

Review


Michael Scott's direction is alright if boring is good. The real problem here is the script. I'm sure he wasn't going for this, but Bruce Graham has delivered a script listless beyond belief. From the token female African American coworker of Jennifer who says "girl" to the plot point about searching for that "it" toy of the season. There's nothing new here, there's nothing funny and there are no surprises either. If life were anything like the story of TMWTotY, I could become a millionaire as a fortune teller.

The humour is a major black hole in The Most Wonderful Time of the Year that absolutely needs to be talked about. You can hardly believe that these jokes came about at all, never mind that Hallmark was able to find actors willing to use them. A recurring joke for example is the wreath that hangs on Jennifer's front door keeps falling off. "This wreath is too big" everyone says, but not according to Jennifer. It's just that the hook is too small and she has to get a new one. She never does though.

One of my least favourite at humour attempts has to be when Jennifer is trying to figure out how to cook a turkey. She appears to have never spent a single day in the kitchen and seems confused by the idea that you follow one recipe at a time, not twenty. Whoever decided that each recipe book should have unique a voice heard only by Jennifer that completely overwhelm her shouldn't be making movies anymore. I could give many more examples of how TMWTotY isn't funny but I'll stop there. You get the idea.

Michael Scott tries to make this movie about finding the true meaning of Christmas. Jennifer apparently does it all wrong because she overdecorates, writes Christmas letters to people she doesn't even know and has the audacity to have a fake Christmas tree. Morgan insists that he buy a real one down the streets which incites a completely baloney scene where Jennifer's son Brian hugs Morgan out of joy. It's a really weak attempt at manipulating the audience in wanting Jennifer to go with Morgan and not her other love interest Richard. I just hate it when kids are used like this.

The whole "real Christmas spirit" thing misses its target completely. I don't even know what Bruce Graham was trying to say and he contradicts himself anyway. What about Jennifer's insistence on getting that RocketWheel for Brian? What about uncle Ralph bringing a million presents for Brian? (Spoilers) What about attempting to break into a toy store and beating up its owner for that RocketWheel for Brian huh? You can't get much more materialistic than that. (End Spoilers) Honestly, The Most Wonderful Time of the Years says one thing but does another. 

Anyhow, the whole movie feels so far removed from reality. This is a movie that's as fake as the fake snow it uses. Brooke Burns is pretty weak as an actress and Warren Christie just plays that great guy who does it all, but ends up being completely faceless. Both actors also seem to have negative chemistry together which makes things ever worse. Neither one is funny but it's not like Bruce Graham's script does them any favours. Henry Winkler is just there to make a fool of himself, nothing more.

There's no point to The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It completely destroys its weakly explained Christmas message with big contradictions and doesn't have a single ounce of genuine drama, romance or sentimentality. I recommend you don't watch this movie unless you feel like knowing what the opposite of this title is like. Also in case you're wondering, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is indeed part of the soundtrack.

Rating


3.5/10