Movie Review: The Santa Summit (2023)

Synopsis: Still hurting from a recent breakup, an art teacher, Jordin, attends a holiday event known as the Santa Summit (a Christmas-themed bar crawl) with her two best friends and colleagues, Ava and Stella. When she drops her wallet, Jordin meets Liam, an architect, and immediately feels a spark. However, she and Liam become separated before learning each other's names and since they were wearing Santa costumes, don't know what each other looks like. Determined to find love, they begin to search for each other while attending all the Santa Summit events.

Who's in it? The movie stars Hunter King, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Amy Groening, Stephanie Sy and Rodrigo Beilfuss

Review: As is usually the case when we stay out late the night before (karaoke date night) my wife and I were pretty wiped out yesterday and, after doing a few things around the house, wound up hanging out on the couch. It gave us an excuse to watch another Hallmark Christmas movie, and this is the one I picked out. 

To tell you the truth, I didn't think I would like this one at first. However, it wound up growing on me.

The premise of the movie is a bit basic, and as is usually the case with films in this genre, some parts of the movie were a bit predictable as a result. The overall execution though made it more enjoyable than expected.

I loved how Jordin (King) and Liam (Hollingsworth) kept missing each other by literally seconds throughout the film, with one walking away as another stepped into the scene, and how Liam managed to both meet and talk to both of her best friends without realizing it. In fact, there were times when I wondered if he would make such an impression on her friends, there would wind up being a love triangle or quadrangle. The way he finally gets her attention and points her in the right direction was fantastic (albeit a bit lucky too). 

Speaking of her friends, having both Ava (Groening) and Stella (Sy) having their own Christmas-time dilemmas was a nice touch. It put the focus a bit more on their friendship and allowed for some unpredictable elements to keep the movie entertaining.

In particular, I loved the mysterious Freddie (Beilfuss). The movie does a great job of keeping who (and what) he is until the very end of the film, making me watch solely to find out. Let's put it this way, he has a North Pole-like accent and an overabundance of Christmas spirit. But he's not who you would think he is. 

Oh, and I have to admit, I kind of wanted to do that Santa Summit myself. I'm not much for bar hopping, but some of those stops looked entertaining. I especially liked the "silent" disco, which I thought was a clever idea because you could dance and, if you wanted to have a conversation with someone, all you needed to do was remove the headphones rather than shouting above the music.

My only real problem with the movie (other than the whole "I won't be happy unless I have a man in my life" plot involving Jordin) is I feel like Stella got a raw deal at the end. Yeah, technically the movie had a happy ending for her but, unlike her friends, her happy ending seemed like a short-term thing that doesn't resolve her main problem - no longer being able to teach music and not being a very good English teacher. My only thought is maybe the movie was implying she was going to quit teaching entirely but that was both unclear and would seem out of character for her. Maybe a bit more clarification about that would have helped.

Final Opinion: Movies in this genre are typically going to be a bit flawed and far from Oscar worthy but you do occasionally come across a hidden gem. I don't think this was my favorite Hallmark Christmas film, but I did like it.

My Grade: B

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