It’s time for another Hallmark film! This one misses the mark a little more than previous films and I would say that it’s the weakest entry. Mainly this is because I disagreed with the film’s moral and Santa ends up looking like a bad guy here. It definitely gets a little dicey at times, but at the end of the day the film still handles itself pretty well otherwise.
Picture this, you are Hannah a world famous reporter. You’re making a 6 digit salary and have just aced another story. You are so impressive that the higher ups have decided to give you a promotion along with a new job in New York. Everything is going perfectly, but then you get a Facebook invite from an old flame. Your boss wisely tells you to ignore this request. Block the guy before he tries to steal your money. You heed the advice to the extent that you don’t approve the message and run to your office. Unfortunately Santa breaks in and throws you into an alternate reality. In this reality you married the guy from your past named Ben and have 2 kids. You don’t have a job anymore and are just barely scraping by on paycheck to paycheck. Santa also refuses to let you go home until you’ve learned to enjoy this new life so it could be a while.
You just can’t help but feel bad for Hannah the whole time. She’s clearly worked hard to make it where she is right now so for Santa to just take it all away is pretty extreme. Especially since he’s claiming that it’s her fault that this happened when he very clearly changed things up himself. She should certainly be upset and with good reason. The problem is that the film plays it out that this alternate reality is the better one. The film basically says that she should have turned down the career opportunity at the beginning so she could let Ben support her instead and become a stay at home Mom. It’s a very dicey alternate reality. If you ask just about anyone I’m sure they would agree that Hannah made the right choice. Now, why didn’t Ben go with her? If he was serious then he should have gone, but we learn in the alternate reality that he really loves his old home so he wouldn’t want to move. In that case they both made their respective choices and Hannah simply won out in the end.
The alternate reality is also pretty annoying as we find out that Hannah didn’t even stay true to herself. We have a small scene where some Moms are complaining about the soccer coach having the players try out and it’s implied that the Hannah of this world would have agreed with them. While she is still a real go getter here, she has lost any kind of competitive edge and is content to just stay at home and wait for Ben. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but to say that it is better than being the rich CEO with connections that Hannah was is a big stretch to say the least. What makes it worse is that Hannah was perfectly happy in her position. It’s not as if she was depressed or something like that, Hannah was absolutely balling.
So, Hannah is a pretty good lead. You just have to ignore the ending to an extent as it gets pretty cheesy since Hannah is bullied into making the wrong calls. Unfortunately, Ben is not a particularly likable character. I think we can blame a good chunk of this on the fact that the film makes it impossible to like him. He is at least indirectly responsible for what has happened to Hanna and since he isn’t understanding of her plight at all then it’s hard to sympathize with him. The guy’s just not very reasonable.
The best character in the film is actually Hannah’s boss. The guy’s very pragmatic and keeps things real. Unlike 99% of main guys who would have panicked when Hannah announced that she was leaving, he didn’t care. He wished her well and stayed professional throughout the ceremony. Now that’s a true boss/friend. Sure, he may have given up on the romance real quick as well, but if it meant staying professional then he would do it. The guy’s a quick talker and always has an angle. You can see why he rose to the top so quickly. The guy was born to be the big boss.
So, the whole premise/plot is a bit out of whack which is unfortunate. Still, the writing is good beyond that I suppose. The basic concept of trying to live out someone else’s life is always interesting. It’s the basic principle of why Your Name did so well in theaters. It’s a nice concept even if it’s one that has been done many times before. I don’t think this film did it as well as others, but at least it’s interesting. I do think Hannah could have been quicker on the uptake though. She slips up so many times that it starts to stretch your disbelief a bit. The worst part of this would be having to live out the romance which is why I guess it’s lucky for Hannah that she used to like the guy. Still makes for a terrible romance though so I have to give the film a thumbs down there. Body switching romance type plots just don’t work. You’re effectively making the guy cheat on his version of the character even if they are the same individual.
Overall, Family for Christmas is the first Hallmark title where I can’t give it the full 7. I have to at least dock one point for this plot just not being particularly good. Wrecking Hannah’s perfect life and forcing her to live this one for a few days is just way too brutal. The film would have been way better if we had stayed in the real world. Also, this Santa should have faced some kind of repercussions for what he did. Furthermore, the 2 kids in that version also weren’t particularly likable. They lost their patience with Hannah real quick and weren’t very supportive. I think Hannah should have just came out and told them that she wasn’t their real mother but in a less misleading way. Since they’re kids maybe they would buy into the Santa miracle. If not? Well, no harm done with trying. Hannah should have also doubled down with Ben a little more. Regardless, it is what it is. If you can get around the premise then this is still a good Christmas film to check out, but otherwise all of the others are certainly superior.