Movie Review: The Secret Gift of Christmas (2023)

Synopsis: Bonnie Parker likes to shop, both for her clients and for herself. A few days before Christmas, she gains a new customer, contractor Patrick Armstrong, a widower who is too busy to shop for his clients, employees and daughter. Bonnie finds Patrick to be stubborn and difficult but after bonding with his daughter, Phebe, her new client starts to grow on her. However, there is one obstacle to romance, a music teacher who has her eyes on Patrick as well.

Who's in it? The movie stars Meghan OryChristopher RussellAria PublicoverEllie Cluett and Henry Keefe. 

Review: I decided to find a Christmas movie for my wife and I to watch while waiting for our oldest daughter to get done with work last night. After reviewing a few different choices from Hallmark, she picked this one. And overall, it turned out to be a good choice.

The plot itself was somewhat predictable, as is usually the case with movies like this (most of them have the same basic plot with some cosmetic differences). However, the thing that impressed me was the depth of the main protagonist, Bonnie (Ory). In addition to trying to convince Patrick (Russell) she knew what she was doing, Bonnie was dealing with a range of personal issues, including the loss of her mother, trying to accept the fact her father was remarrying and a shopping addiction that filled a void with stuff she didn't need.

I also liked just how likable she was. Sometimes it's something that can be a detriment to a movie, making the character less believable. However, it was the type of personality that fit this character perfectly. And as a bonus, I liked how she explained to Phebe (Cluett) the difference between real life and the fictional life she created on social media to attract more clients.

I think my biggest complaint about this movie is the love triangle angle between Bonnie, Patrick and Phebe's music teacher, Fiona (Jenn Grant). This is mostly because the movie goes out of its way to make Fiona seem like a villain when if anything, it was Patrick who created the problem by leading her on, or at least not realizing she was romantically interested in him sooner. And to be fair, Bonnie only made things worse by overreacting to Fiona and Patrick's karaoke duet. It was a rendition of Silent Night; they weren't singing a love song or anything like that.

To be honest, I wasn't a huge Patrick fan to begin with because I just didn't feel like the chemistry was there. Bonnie was charming, Phebe was adorable and even Fiona seemed likable but just misunderstood. Patrick spent most of the movie looking like he wanted to be anywhere other than with an attractive brunette who was romantically interested in him. 

Final Opinion: I don't know if I would describe it as one of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movies and there were things I didn't like about it. However, mostly because of Ory's performance, it was a fun film that I did enjoy watching and I would recommend it as a result.

My Grade: B


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