A Joyous Christmas (2017) Hallmark Review
When you want a Hallmark original that has a little more of an emotional payoff, the place to be is their ‘Movies and Mysteries’ channel. Those of us wanting a festive film full of good cheer, but also a story that digs a little deeper will appreciate A Joyous Christmas.
Success is something Rachel Kennedy’s name is synonymous with. Driven by personal grief, her best-selling book, First Me!, produced a self-help platform she takes on tour. Her latest stop brings her to her hometown, a place Rachel (Natalie Knepp) is not too keen to be returning to.
Little does Rachel realize her life is about to forever change thanks to the presence of two strangers in her life. First, she serendipitously meets Jack (Michael Rady), a Boston transplant who seems more at home in this town than Rachel does.
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Following this, Rachel meets Joy (Bonnie Bedelia), a kind-hearted woman who literally saves Rachel’s life. Together, with some Christmas magic, these three strangers are about to rediscover the joy of Christmas.
There is something really compelling about a Christmas story that isn’t all smiles and cheer. This script is heartfelt but never becomes dark or depressing. Instead, it gives us imperfect characters with some weighty issues. One of these being second chances, and the ways they can change a person.
In many ways, this story is a kind of “journey.” It’s one of the best Hallmark dramas I’ve seen in a while and considering they have many good ones, those that inspire this reaction to stand out. This story takes us deeper than some of its peers. A Joyous Christmas also inspires an emotional reaction in the characters as they seek answers and look for purpose. I also appreciate, in spite of stereotypes, Natalie plays Rachel as a likable character whom we can root for.
If there is one minor flaw, it’d be some of the motivational speeches; it seems to go a little “dramatic” in comparison to the rest of the film’s image and message.
For me personally, every good thing about this is aided by the cast. Though Natalie’s work is largely unfamiliar to me, her credits do reveal she’s starred in TV shows including Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything. The same cannot be said of the leading man. In this role, one of my favorite TV crushes stars. Ever since seeing him in CW’s Emily Owens, M.D., I’ve liked Michael Rady. Of course, before that, he played the love interest to Alexis Bledel in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants films. Since then, has also appeared in Hallmark films.
This cast “bonds” unlike some that seem to have a kind of barrier between them which can make the characters seem “rigid.” There don’t seem to be any such barriers between this cast. Mystery fans will also recognize Steve Bacic from the Garage Sale Mystery films. Added to all of these wonderful qualities is the adorable chemistry between Natalie and Michael. All complete with an adorable meet-cute laced with plenty of subtle sparks.
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Anyone who wants something with substance without sacrificing the feel-good quality Christmas movies boasts should catch A Joyous Christmas. It’s a beautiful story of second chances.
Content: There’s nothing offensive in this film.
Where to Watch: You can see an encore showing of A Joyous Christmas Tuesday, December 5th on Hallmark Movie Channel; it will repeat throughout the month (until December 29). Check your listings for specific times.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Photos: Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie/Crown Media Press