I may have just watched too many bad movies, because I enjoyed this.
Detective Mackenzie “Mack” Bennett (Emily Alatalo) is single at Christmas and, due to her natural awkwardness, has trouble finding dates. This causes no end of derision from her partner, Reid (Andrew Bushell), and her superior/mom (yes, her boss is her mom) Captain Bennett (Lauren Holly). However, when trying to find a guy at a singles night, she accidentally falls, literally, into the arms of Carson (Franco Lo Presti), a perfect guy with whom she immediately connects. The only problem is that the next day FBI Special Agent Robertson (Genelle Williams) arrives to inform the local police that Carson is a professional diamond thief along with his ex-wife. Now Mack has to go undercover, as herself, and date Carson in order to find the diamond encrusted reindeer that he supposedly stole.
Cheesy Christmas movies usually tend to involve two people who learn to love each other despite starting out disliking or not understanding each other. This movie kind of eschews that by having the two main characters fall in love at first sight. Literally, when he catches her (get it?) as she falls, they immediately are attracted to each other and bond quickly. There’s no question that they’re going to get together. Honestly, I buy their chemistry a little more than I should, because the dialogue they exchange is actually more than just “oh hey, you’re a hot guy and I’m a hot girl and it’s Christmas.” It’s a genuinely decent meet-cute scene that actually makes you root for them throughout the film.
The general plot of the movie is predictable, of course, but the actual way it plays out has some fun moments, mostly because Mack’s character is almost entirely defined as “can’t flirt, not good under pressure.” It doesn’t help that her mother is her boss and combines the tropes of those roles we usually see in these films: too involved, inappropriate comments, lots of catchphrases, etc. It’s an insane conceit that her mother could somehow also be her commanding officer and no one seems to question that, but it leads to some interesting moments.
The actual humor that comes from the characters interacting is not bad, the only problem is that almost no one ever quite nails the delivery. I will be frank, aside from Franco Lo Presti (whose appearances on Letterkenny might make me biased), most of the performances are a little too clearly composed of people acting. Line delivery is often unnatural, but I admit that it is more challenging to do the style of comedy the film is asking for from the actors. Alatalo is being asked to flirt badly at one point and, while she does flirt badly, it’s not quite the trainwreck that the screenplay seems to call for. The other person is supposed to be repulsed, but it’s hard to buy that from what Alatalo does in the scene. Still, there are at least some genuinely funny moments.
Overall, I have to say this was close to one of the best cheesy Xmas movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s got some bad acting moments, but it actually skips the “will they won’t they” facade and I appreciate that.
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