Sunday, November 12, 2023

Christmas Island: Movie Review

Well-balanced Christmas cheer.

To clear up the first bit of confusion, this Christmas Island is a real town in Nova Scotia not the Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Don’t worry, they’re not doing something silly like flying from the US to Switzerland by way of the south Pacific. The only silly thing this film is doing is having a massive storm over the Atlantic Ocean which is so severe that all flights have had to be grounded for almost a week.   2023

Directed by: David Weaver

Screenplay by: Samantha Herman

Starring: Rachel Skarston, Andrew Walker

The premise is definitely stretching believability because most storms don’t last four days, especially storms that don’t even reach land. Despite the little weather app that says “severe storm warning” every day that the protagonists are trapped in this small town is a bright and sunny day with no wind and some light snow falling. If you can get past the silly premise, which includes a pilot with zero meteorological training who uses the app on her phone for weather updates, there is a lot of lovely Christmas cheer packaged in this real town.

The lead character is Captain Kate Gabriel (Rachel Skarston), hoping to become a chartered pilot and get hired to be the personal pilot of a rich family. The Sharpe family consists of mom and dad, Helen (Kate Drummond) and Thomas (Jefferson Browne), who run their own business, and teenage daughter Cali (Britt Loder) and younger son Finn (Lincoln MacNeil). When their plane is forced to land, they are greeted in Christmas Island by Oliver (Andrew Walker), the air traffic controller, and his sister, the town’s mayor, and father who runs the post office.

At the beginning, everyone is grouchy; Kate thinks Oliver is mean for forcing her to land, the family is supposed to be in Switzerland and rich people don’t think weather should affect them, Cali’s a moody teenager regardless, and the whole lot of them don’t like Christmas but have just landed in a town celebrating the holiday.

The good thing about the movie is everybody gets over the grouchiness fairly quickly and start getting to know the town and all the nice people who have taken them in. There’s a small scale Come From Away vibe here, definitely helped by the fact that Christmas Island is a real town, and it’s filmed on location with unique sets. Each character has their own mini story allowing all of the main characters to evolve for the better over the course of the movie. Britt Loder as Cali is the shining light, able to take a very relatable snarky teenage girl and let her see how she can help others and in turn give herself a sense of purpose. The romance between Oliver and Kate is also very charming even though I wish Kate was a nicer person overall.

Christmas Island is a well-balanced movie. No characters are taken to extremes, the emotion is well-earned, and there are Christmas traditions in here for everybody.