Friday, November 17, 2023

Navigating Christmas: Movie Review

A Hallmark Christmas on a cute island.

Navigating Christmas is set on a remote island off the coast of Washington state. It’s a small island with a lighthouse, a diner and a few people who all wear plaid. It is a fictional place, but it’s a lovely set and not overdone unlike most of Hallmarks fictional small-town settings. Recently divorced single mother Melanie (Chelsea Hobbs) takes her teenage son on a last-minute Christmas vacation after his father bailed on him.   2023

Directed by: Peter Benson

Screenplay by:

Starring: Chelsea Hobbs, Stephen Huszar

The beginning features a lot of bad acting and dreadful dialogue that speaks down at the audience who are assumed to be too emotionally dumb to process the evolving feelings of a divorce. It gets much better when they arrive on Saint Nicholas Island. But first they have to get there. A choppy water ferry ride leads to the meet cute which features Hallmark’s favourite and my least favourite trope: the heroine is in a bad mood, the leading man tries to offer help, but she just gets more annoyed so now they hate each other, when... surprise!... he’s the owner of the lighthouse and Melanie and son are his new tenants.

The good parts of the plot include Peter (Steven Huszar) and Melanie’s son Jason bonding over the lighthouse and life in general, and then Melanie being an adorable mom when Jason has his own island romance, while her romance with Peter takes more time.

The not so good parts of the plot include Jason’s romance just stopping for no reason, Jason committing a crime with zero fall-out (not even a “don’t worry we won’t press charges” conversation), and Peter selling the lighthouse and Melanie, who he has known for all of two days, feels personally victimized that he has the audacity to sell it and not tell her.

It’s a lightweight movie, as all of Hallmark’s Christmas movies are, but it also feels like a staid drama. Melanie dealing with her ex-husband and son is over-done and not interesting. The more interesting elements which is everything dealing with the town and lighthouse, are fun but also highlight the laziness in the genre. Peter decides to teach Jason how to signal “happy holidays” using morse code. But it’s not. The flashing of lights was the exact same amount of time for both dots and dash so there was absolutely no difference in the letters and not morse code, and even if the timing of the letters was correct, they only did two letters. Actually writing out “happy holidays” using morse code would have been both possible and way cooler. Also, if you’re stuck out in water late at night and have a flashlight and know morse code, don’t signal “happy holidays” signal “sos”, like seriously.

The setting of Navigating Christmas saves it (although I am a sucker for water and anything in the Pacific northwest) because the writing for the main characters is too heavy-handed especially when all of the familiar tropes are being used.