PLOT: After their parents separate, two estranged sisters who haven’t been on speaking terms reunite in hopes that having a family Christmas all together for the first time in years will bring their Mom and Dad close again.
Normally, I would start one of these by talking about the plot or the way characters interacted, but I needed to let you know something first. Amy Jo Johnson (Power Rangers, Felicity) plays the mother in this movie. Guys, the Pink Ranger is now getting roles as a mother of two daughters in their TWENTIES! I’ll let that sink in a bit. Growing up is weird, huh? It doesn’t feel like time is moving, but then one day you’re watching a movie and it stars your first crush as the mother of two adults. Now that I’ve started everyone’s existential crisis, let’s move on to discussing this very Canadian Christmas movie.
Coming Home for Christmas stars Carly McKillip (Alice I Think, Triple Dog), and her sister Britt (Dead Like Me, Trick ‘r Treat), as two estranged sisters that haven’t talked for five years. The rift in their relationship occurred when Kate (Carly) left Mel’s (Britt) wedding because she didn’t like who her sister was marrying. The two begin to mend fences when they find out their parents are separating. The only problem with their plan to reunite their parents is that their childhood home is now owned by someone else because of a foreclosure that the movie blames on the sisters not talking.
Kate meets the new owner while trespassing on the property, and for some reason she runs offer without explaining why she there. Eventually, she meets him again and he becomes the main love interest. The only relationship that feels real and natural is that of the sisters, which is understandable, but it also an indictment of the casting. Everyone else feels a little off especially the parents, which is something that is normally caught in chemistry audition. The only explanation could be that they wanted to have both George Canyon (Heartland, Man of Steel) — a Canadian Country Music artist — and Johnson — a recognizable American actress — and didn’t care if they meshed. The difference in experience was obvious, but this is not to excuse their performances, which were sub par. It is why you should always make sure your supporting actor are strong because they are the foundation of your movie.
The Canadian Country Music connection is the weirdest thing about Coming Home for Christmas. The McKillip sisters are in a band called One More Girl, and have made multiple records over the past few years, and Canyon was the runner-up on Nashville Star back in 2004. The only advantage they offer is that the singing scenes have some legitimate voices and not actors who may have never sung before. Maybe these three are really big in Canada and it means something there, but for me, it’s nothing more than a weird coincidence.
This movie’s filmed in the Godless country of Canada (just kidding).
A cute love story that feels a little forced, but it is better than most. The only thing that was cringe worthy was Carly McKillip’s flirty looks early in the movie. I could tell she was counting her steps and then turning around to look back. It was a little endearing, but it definitely kills the vibe of the scene. The relationship has a natural build up and the partnership is official after a montage on the beach while a song by the elder McKillip plays.
The scenes near the end of the movie are really the only parts of this movie that showcase Christmas. There are songs littered throughout so that you remember when the movie takes place. There are enough moments of decorating, and a final scene around the tree featuring a sing-a-long of the best that Canadian Country Music has to offer (I think?) that it makes up for the early parts of the movie. Quality over quantity.
Christmas-ness Score: 3.5 out of 5
Everything about Coming Home for Christmas is average at best. The McKillip sisters are fine with Carly being slightly more cringe worthy during the romantic scenes. But that may be because Brett doesn’t have as much dialogue much to work with. Johnson is by far the strongest actor of the group, she brings a grounded-ness to Wendy, and she’s the only one whose character expresses their emotions in an understandable way. Coming Home for Christmas is not a movie that I’d recommend adding to your yearly repertoire, but if you do find it on Lifetime, ABC family or Hallmark Channel, you wouldn’t be wasting your time if you watched it.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 10