Cinema Slueth – Christmas Movie Magic

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Stars: 4.5 / 5

Recommendation:  Thoughtfully written, engaging story, good acting even though the lead cast found their chemistry only in the last five minutes, with a spin of New Hollywood meeting the Old Hollywood, and a mystery rolled in with old-world romance.

Christmas Movie Magic is a 2021 Holiday movie by Lifetime Television. Holly Deveaux, Drew Seeley and Jill Frappier in the lead cast supported by Pam Hyatt, Roy Lewis, Robin Dunne and Tanisha Thammavongsa. Directed by Robert Vaughn, Produced by a plethora of producers. Original story by James S. Blakeman and Caitlin English while it was scripted for the movie by Rickie Castaneda and Megan Hockling.

Alli Blakeman (portrayed by Holly Deveaux) comes to White Falls, NY to write about the 65th anniversary of the movie classic “Christmas With You” which was filmed in the same town. She pairs up with Brad Westdale (portrayed by Drew Seeley) who owns the theater for her article. Along the way she re-discovers her love for Christmas, while unravelling a mystery tied around the classic film and finding love for herself.

This is the first time I was watching a movie or a show in which Holly Deveaux has starred in. She had performed decently well in this film. She comes across as this girl with two selves – an inner self with a romantic heart who could as well be present during the classic era of Hollywood; an outer self in this digital age which has made her jaded to Christmas and Holidays. She portrayed her part really well. I wonder if they gave homage to the original story writer – James S. Blakeman – by giving the lead characters last name as Blakeman!

Drew Seeley is a Canadian actor, singer, song writer and dancer. I had watched his 2019 romantic comedy Christmas film Write Before Christmas on Hallmark Channel prior to watching this movie. In that he was one of the four stories that run parallel. In here he is the leading man. He has given his best shot at his role though.

Individually both Drew and Holly have performed really well, good acting and dialogue / emotion display. However, I feel that there was some lack in their chemistry, a missing spark. It was in the end dance routine that their chemistry shone through. Too bad they didn’t find it early on or this would have been a little more spectacular movie.

The mystery associated with the song of the said classic “Christmas With You” in the film is what intrigued me to watch this again when it was aired the second time around this year. However, I cannot discount the fact that the song’s music and lyrics also charmed me to delve into this movie further.

The movie showed the fashion of the 2020s and the 1950s. Loved the outfits from the 1950s a lot more than the 2020s although it is really not easy to wear that fashion as easy as we can wear the ones in 2020s. Holly’s 2020s outfits have a little mix with the 1950s fashion.

The movie was filmed in the actual “Westdale Theater” in Hamilton, Ontario. It is the last extant single-screen theater left in Hamilton. We get a front-row seat to enjoy this beautiful theater stepping you back into time. It was opened in 1935 and renovated in 1979. However, just like in this movie, this original theater also has its claim to fame because of filming of another movie in its location – the 1980 American marital arts action film Bloodsport.

As much as Alli is cynical about the classic movies or not having the usual Christmas spirit, Brad is complete opposite of her. He is into classics, loves the romance of the black and white, or even color, but he sees them as time machines or a teleporters taking one into a journey to the past. She calls it “facts over feelings. Less disappointment that way”. And he things it as escapism; a break from truth every now and then.

The scene for the iconic song “All in Time” in the movie’s movie looks like was inspired by the title song of the 1952 American musical romantic comedy Singin’ in the Rain. The song in question here was written by Stacey Hersh and Brock Walsh. Drew Seeley and Holly Deveaux perform on the song in the film.

Holly and Drew’s characters enact the dance sequence on this “All in Time” song while we are shown how it is done by Walter and his co-star in the movie’s movie simultaneously. An intelligent and smart way for the director to showcase the heart of the movie with a musical ending. Oh well! Drew Seeley was acting, so you are bound to see atleast one song and a dance. And we get them both. Here is that song that I recorded while it was airing on TV. Very romantic and beautiful!

One other small thing of shortcoming for this film is the re-enacting of the iconic scene of Walter by Alli. In the movie’s movie, Walter shouts from the top of a building professing his love to his lead star. Alli re-enacts the same scene. However, for some reason the director did not make it as a big deal out of it. I was hoping it would have been more significant since the lead actors speak of the scene several times in the movie.

“Magic is where you make it, and movie magic can take you anywhere, if you just sit back and let it happen.” This is another refreshingly different than most holiday movies that tend to have a standard formula that they stick to. Thoughtfully written, engaging story, good acting even though the lead cast found their chemistry only in the last five minutes, with a spin of New Hollywood meeting the Old Hollywood, and a mystery rolled in with old-world romance.

Spoiler Alerts:

Movie Trivia:

  1. The movie introduces to the audience something called “Santa’s Popcorn” – traditional kettle popcorn but drizzled with marshmallows instead of butter and added Christmas candies. Found an interesting recipe online and U tried it for a holiday party. It wasn’t that bad but didn’t turn out like how the movie showed. See below.

2. Another fun tradition the movie introduces to those romantic hearts out there – If two people drop their candy canes and it forms a heart, whatever they wish will come true. Oh how cheesy and romantic. Try it out you romantic hearts out there for this Christmas.

Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

  1. Brad says “…back of the theater into a winter..” in one scene. But the subtitles print it as “…side of the theater into a winter…”

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