Movie Review: My Christmas Family Tree (2021)

Synopsis: Vanessa Hall never knew her father so, when an ancestry DNA test allows her to meet him for the first time, she is thrilled, especially when he invites her to spend Christmas with him and the rest of her new family. As an added bonus, she sees romantic potential in a family friend. There's just one thing that threatens to screw everything up, a phone call from the DNA company telling her they made a mistake.

Who's in it? The movie stars Aimee Teegarden, Andrew W. Walker, James Tupper, Georgia Mae Orchard and Kendall Cross.

Review: I'll be honest, by the time my wife and I started watching this movie, I was starting to get a little burned out on Hallmark Christmas films and gave consideration to finding something else to do. I did end up watching it, however, and am glad I did.

This turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining movie, with a good mix of laughs and even tears (my wife had to get some tissues about midway through it). Overall, I feel I enjoyed it most because it had a good mix of great acting and a plot that wasn't even remotely as predictable as I was expecting it to be.

The story execution was almost perfect. A lot of films would have rushed things but this one lets the character relationships grow, especially between Vanessa (Teegarden) and her new siblings. This makes the news of a potential DNA mistake much more effective and it was easier to understand why Vanessa would be so reluctant to give everything up, even though I do still feel it would have been better to say something a lot sooner rather than later, especially since it was clear the family was extremely open minded when it came to things like that.

The character that impressed me the most in this film had to be the youngest sister, Emilia (Orchard). I loved her hot/cold relationship with her new sister and how her confusion/anger/sadness later in the film really cut into us as we watched it. Whoever wrote that character really understood children.

I did have some mixed feelings about the love story between Vanessa and family friend, Kris (Walker). I get it, this is a Hallmark movie and Vanessa needed someone to share a romantic kiss with at the end as a result of that. However, that part of the story ended up taking up too much of the film's runtime when the story about meeting her new family/trying to decide whether to tell them the truth was much more interesting and unique. Frankly, the love story was one of those things that could have been completely cut from the movie and not had any real impact on what was already a great concept. If anything, removing it would have given the writers a lot more time and freedom to focus on the better story.

Final Opinion: The fact it is a Hallmark movie might be a bit misleading but, overall, this was a great film that my wife and I enjoyed watching and one that might get added to our regular Christmas movie rotation in future years.

My Grade: A


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