Friday, October 27, 2023

Christmas by Design: Movie Review

A lazy Christmas romance.

I was looking forward to a fashion-based Christmas rom-com, but Hallmark’s Christmas by Design forgot the crucial element of successful romantic comedies – characters that audiences want to root for. Charlotte (Rebecca Dalton), aka Charlie, is fine by the end, but at the beginning she’s a delusional, extremely self-absorbed narcissist who likes being antagonistic towards strangers and dismissive of people who care about her. And it forgot the fashion.   2023

Directed by: Max McGuire

Screenplay by: Carley Smale

Starring: Rebecca Dalton, Thomas Chovanec

If the movie was supposed to be about her journey recognizing her flaws and working to become a better person, that would have been one thing. But that’s not how this movie was written. She becomes less antagonistic and less selfish as the movie progresses but not through introspection, she just changes randomly - a by-product of lazy writing. These movies by design are lazy, but this one in particular takes it too far, and it rubs me the wrong way. Take minor character Margo – played by a Venezuelan actress and presumably a Venezuelan character given her accent, and then she says she’s Jewish. Not only is Venezuela famously and abundantly Roman Catholic, but Judaism represents approximately 0.2% of Venezuela’s population. This very minor character who plays almost no role in the movie sticks out as an incongruity. She’s clearly the result of producers who wanted diversity for diversity’s sake and not reality’s sake; she’s two minorities in one that don’t go together. (Diversity is good, but you have to mean it and want it, not fake it). Also, how does Charlie not know that her only employee and only friend of many years is Jewish? It should be hard to write a character this poorly.

Other than the antagonistic start, the romance between Charlie and Peter is nice. It progresses at a reasonable pace, the characters get to know each other well, and the inevitable obstacle understandably breaks them up right before it has to, until of course, Charlie discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

The central romance is fine but the rest of the movie just highlights all the mistakes and laziness that Hallmark is famous for: we’re back to a generic, unrealistic small town; a profession that is intended to be highlighted but never is (we see only one of her designs and it’s a very ugly very confusing pyjama set); and minor characters that make no sense. Charlie’s ex-boyfriend is mentioned early and often, and then he becomes a one-note villain who makes no sense and has one insignificant moment in Charlie and Peter’s relationship – what was even the point of him? And that pretty much sums up this movie.

At times, Christmas by Design is fine, it’s cute and romantic, at other times it’s just lazy filmmaking which is annoying.

Want a different Christmas movie or just more holiday-themed movies? Holiday Movies