Movie Review: A Biltmore Christmas (2023)

Synopsis: The movie His Merry Wife has been a beloved holiday classic for 75 years and screenwriter Lucy Hargrove receives her first big break by being asked to write the remake. However, her "more realistic" ending doesn't impress the remake's producer and he sends Lucy to the historic Biltmore House, the hotel where the original was filmed, for inspiration. While on a tour of the building, Lucy turns over the antique hourglass that was featured in the movie and finds herself transported back in time to when His Merry Wife was being made. When the hourglass is broken, her return to the present day is put in jeopardy.

Who's in it? The movie stars Bethany Joy LenzKristoffer PolahaColton Little, Annabelle Borke and Jonathan Frakes.

Review: After touring the Christmas light display in a nearby park, I was in the mood for another Christmas movie last night. This Hallmark film seemed intriguing, at least from the previews, so we gave it a try. While it was arguably one of the better Hallmark holiday films we've seen this year, my opinion of it was still mixed.

Overall, I liked the concept. Lucy (Lenz) is a talented writer who wants to make her own mark, so it's easy enough to understand where she's coming from even if you don't necessarily agree with her take on happy endings. I also loved how that ends up having a bit of an ironic effect when she is transported back to 1947 and inadvertently becomes the reason for His Merry Wife's iconic ending.

Unlike most films in this genre, this wasn't as predictable as I would have expected it to be. This was especially true of her romantic interest in the movie's leading man, Jack Huston (Polaha), which at least on the surface didn't seem like something that could come to fruition unless she remained in the past and found a way to keep him from dying a year later.

I also liked how the film doesn't completely change its leading character, like so many others. Lucy remains fully independent, doesn't give up her career and makes the "correct" decision at the end while still feeling good about it and without anyone necessarily forcing it on her (just changing her mind because of events she helped shape). 

That all said, I did think the love story between Lucy and Jack seemed both forced and unnecessary. This wasn't a movie where the protagonist needed to find love but because it's Hallmark, was given a love interest anyway. Of course, one of the biggest problems with that is she barely knew Jack other than a few brief interactions. This made the movie's own happy ending seem a whole lot less realistic and the whole "I can't be happy without a man" cliche weakened an otherwise interesting main character.

Final Opinion: I liked the movie but do feel it would have been stronger if the forced romantic relationship between Lucy and Jack were cut out.

My Grade: B


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