A self-aware delight of a Hallmark Christmas romance.
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|Lights, Camera, Christmas! is a self-aware Hallmark Christmas movie, and is exactly what the genre needs. A Christmas romance that takes place on the set of a Hallmark-style Christmas romance movie featuring one lead character who hates the genre and her co-lead who makes a living off them and loves it. It has all the necessary ingredients to succeed, and it does.||2022 |
Directed by: David Weaver
Screenplay by: Gary Goldstein
Starring: Kimberley Sustad, John Brotherton
If you’re like me, and only watch one or two Hallmark Christmas movies a year, then I’ll make it easy for you, this is the one. A meta take of the Hallmark Christmas movie with a movie-within-the-movie, it gently pokes fun at all the cheesiness inherent in the story. But it really succeeds thanks to its lead actor. John Brotherton as Hollywood actor Brad Baxter, aka King of Christmas, playing Nick aka Santa Claus, is legitimately funny. Probably the best actual performance found in any of these movies
You may know John Brotherton from the Fuller House reboot, and he’s also made a few of these made-for-TV movie Christmas romances in recent years, so he’s essentially making fun of himself? A classically handsome actor who has the comedic chops to pull that off.
Brad arrives in the small town of Twelve Oaks as part of the Hollywood production to turn the real small town into a Hallmark Christmas movie small town. He introduces himself as the King of Christmas, a nickname he clearly gave himself given how much he loves it. The production needs a costume designer, and they walk into Kerry’s (Kimberley Sustad) fashion retail store. Brad is his charming self but is shocked to find out that Kerry has never actually seen any of his movies. They all look the same to her, but Brad is passionate about all of them.
The humour is really solid. The movie never goes very far in making fun of itself, but it works because of Brad’s genuineness in his love of the genre. Brotherton does all the small things to make Brad funny from a slight nudge of his sunglasses down on his nose in one scene, and adjusting them up in another scene, and his over-the-top display of ego and friendliness.
As Kerry and the audience discover, the fastest way to one’s heart is through humour. The build-up of their romance is so gradual it actually feels much faster than it is, then there is the inevitable obstacle to their relationship. Which again works because Brotherton left little cracks in Brad’s shiny exterior so we could always see the real human underneath.
While the audience does get the happily ever after that the genre demands, it definitely feels cheap. Kerry is deeply hurt and upset by Brad’s past actions that the sadness and awkwardness in seeing him again is more real than the forgiveness in a flash. I wish the movie flipped the Christmas romance ending on its head, but at the very least it is self-aware; it knows exactly what people like and don’t like about this genre. Lights, Camera, Christmas! is a delightful step in the right direction.