Movie Review: Family For Christmas (2015)

Synopsis: Hanna Dunbar has a successful career as a broadcast journalist and was just offered her dream job in New York but a friend request from her college boyfriend, Ben, has her wondering what might have been if, instead of taking a prestigious internship several years earlier, she had chosen to stay with him. She gets the opportunity to find out after a "Christmas wish" results in her waking up in an alternate universe where she is married to Ben and is a stay-at-home mom.

Who's in it? The movie stars Lacey Chabert, Tyron Leitso, Milli Wilkinson, Audrey Smallman and Brittney Wilson.

Review: My wife and I continued our holiday movie marathon with this film yesterday evening. At first, I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but it turned out to be a great movie.

There were a couple things I really liked about this movie. One of the main ones, as has been the case with other films we've seen this holiday season, was Lacey Chabert's performance as Hanna. I loved how she portrayed the character. As a broadcast journalist, she was ruthless and ambitious. As a surprise wife and stay-at-home mom, she was overwhelmed and confused. But, regardless of the situation, she still managed to have a kindness that made her likable. That's something a lot of movies forget about the protagonist, at least in my opinion, if you want people to root for them, you need to like them.

The story itself was also entertaining, mostly because it wasn't anywhere near as predictable as many other Christmas/romance movies. Even though Hanna seemed to care for her new family, especially her new daughters (Wilkinson and Smallman), she did enjoy her career and didn't seem content with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. This made her decision about what she wanted a lot more complicated.

Also adding to this movie was Ben himself (Leitso). At first, I didn't think he was very likable because he seemed to think of Hanna as a cog in his perfect life (beautiful wife to take care of his kids and other needs while he pursued his dream career) and dismissive of her trying to pursue other interests if they interfered with that. In fact, there was part of me that wondered if this movie would have a surprise twist that revealed the alternate universe was actually HIS Christmas wish since he seemed to be the one benefitting the most. I warmed up to him a little more toward the end of the film, when he started seeing things Hanna's way, but that initial dislike of a guy who obviously wasn't perfect did make the movie more interesting.

I had mixed feelings about the ending. On one hand, I liked how the movie left things open-ended regarding Hanna/Ben's future but, as is the case with too many movies like this, I did feel like Hanna was willing to give up an awful lot for a guy that had made zero effort to rekindle their relationship over the previous several years. Since it is a Hallmark movie, I am going to assume it worked out, but it did seem like a big gamble. I mean, just because it would have worked out had they gotten married right after college doesn't mean it would work out now, especially since there is no guarantee they would still end up with the two awesome kids and neighbors she had in her alternate life. 

Actually, the more I think about that ending, the more I wonder if Santa (Keith MacKechnie) was pulling a fast one on Hanna and it was Ben's wish after all.

Final Opinion: I wasn't completely sure I would like this film but it ended up being an entertaining movie and it ended up being one of my favorites this year so far.

My Grade: A


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