I’ve mentioned my fascination with similarly themed Christmas movies. Once again, I managed to find – in close proximity – two movies that reminded me of one another. First I watched Hallmark’s 2016 A December Bride, written by Karen Berger, so I’ll review it first for Day 7. We’ll visit Hallmark’s 2016 The Mistletoe Promise, written by Richard Paul Evans for Day 8.
(Though different set-ups, the similarities involve secret pacts between the couples. For a hilarious secret pact, I suggest Hitched For the Holidays, which I reviewed in 2015.)
As soon as the main character, Layla, introduces her cousin Jessica to her fiancé Jack at a business function, her December wedding is doomed when they immediately hit it off. We see Layla’s nervousness as she watches their eyes connect, and blames Seth, an acquaintance who suggests that Jessica and Jack could help each other business-wise. I wondered why she was so insecure at this late date and why she had to blame Seth?
Caving to family pressure, and having secured her cute neighbor as her date, she agrees to attend the wedding, but at the last minute, he gets sick. Desperate, she allows Seth to take her – to make it up to her – after they bump into one another near his office where she’s on her way to pitch her abilities as a professional house-stager to the realty developer in town, as she tries to move on from being an eternal design assistant. He’s not buying.
But, it turns out he’s a wedding guest, and assumes she and Seth are a couple, so as a favor to Seth… he agrees to give Layla a trial run – if she can turn Seth’s pathetically under-decorated, yet luxurious bachelor home into a holiday paradise for the Christmas Tour of Homes.
(PS: Yes, we’ve seen the bachelor pad makeover before too, per A Bride For Christmas, which I also recommend from last year.)
As this puts her into direct competition with her boss, she’s promptly fired. Now she has to win the tour’s highest honor. As she and Seth are linked together, they’re invited to more holiday functions as a couple, and somehow… to save face, it pops out that they’re engaged. They decide to carry the charade through until Christmas.
During the process of preparing Seth’s home for Christmas – trimming the tree, making wreaths, stringing popcorn – their attraction grows, though Layla holds back.
The unresolved issue of forgiving Jessica (and Jack) still weighs her down. One sticking point for me was not that Layla should forgive, rather it was that Jessica didn’t seem truly contrite – merely that all should be forgiven because she and Jack fell in love.
I felt there should be something more from Jessica. Where’s the sense of honor when the two cousins were so close? And, why did she also steal Layla’s dream of a December wedding? She is not the “December Bride” this movie is about.
However, all the story lines neatly wind up, so I give this movie 3.5 of 5 popcorn strands.