Christmas Cracker: The Mistletoe Promise (2016)
Jaime King plays a woman named Elise and Luke MacFarlane plays a man named Nicholas, and all you need to know is that these two people encounter one another and end up admitting that they would appreciate some help to get through the Christmas period. Elise wants to be able to find a way to cope with the way her business is being potentially damaged by the co-owner, who is also her ex-husband (played by Lochlyyn Munro). Nicholas wants to make a better impression as he vies for a promotion in a company that seems to value workers with a settled family life over single men, no matter how exemplary their work record. Nick and Elise make “the mistletoe promise” to agree to help one another.
Based on a book by Richard Paul Evans, The Mistletoe Promise is one of those Christmas movies that has the potential to be much better than it actually is. King can be a decent enough actress, although she’s not really doing great work here, and MacFarlane is equally . . . . . . . okay. The supporting role for Munro livens things up considerably, while Sarah Smyth is also an enjoyable presence. Sadly, none of them are treated all that well by the script, written by Michael Nourse (this may be his first movie, I couldn’t find him listed anywhere online, even on the IMDb page for this very film).
Director David Winning has an extensive selection of TV work, both film and series, to his credit, and this would perhaps serve to reassure viewers that they’re in safe hands. He certainly knows how to keep things moving briskly enough, and the technical side of things seems to be in order. He does, however, forget to frost everything with some real magic. The whole story never lifts up, despite attempts to tug at the heartstrings here and there en route to the ending we can all see coming from the opening credits, and there’s a disappointing lack of warmth and chemistry between the leads.
And yet, despite lacking the warmth and “spice” that would raise up a seasonal TV movie, this still just about works. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, especially when it is packaged so inoffensively. You get a number of Christmas movie tropes – carols, snowmen, a nicely-decorated tree, ghosts of Christmases past. You just don’t get anything that feels magical or miraculous.
DIRECTOR: DAVID WINNING
WRITER: MICHAEL NOURSE, BASED ON THE BOOK BY RICHARD PAUL EVANS
STARS: JAIME KING, LUKE MACFARLANE, LOCHLYN MUNRO, SARAH SMYTH, CHRISTIE LAING, ASHLEY ROSS
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX