PLOT: A department-store window decorator learns there is a vacancy for her dream job in the run-up to Christmas, only to find a professional rival has his eye on it too.
Supreme Editor of this Web site, Anthony, once said to me that half these movies are about someone who moves to a small town from a big city for a job. They are upset at first about this, but the wholesomeness and Christmas spirit of the town overwhelms them and they’re transformed from cynical city slicker to small town dweller filled with the magic of Christmas.
This is about as succinct a description of the genre that I’ve ever heard, and the other half of Christmas movies is just a slight variation. In these scenarios, the small town dweller comes to the big city to teach the heathens the magic of the season. The latter half is what we find in Window Wonderland. Paul Campbell (Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica) plays Jamie, a quick-witted window designer who has a devil-may-care attitude about the job despite being good at it. Jamie moves to New York City from a small town and tries to install a bit of Christmas into the life of career-focused Sloane — played by Chyler Leigh (Supergirl, Grey’s Anatomy).
The competition between the two is something that didn’t really grab me. This is probably because I’ve never really experienced shopping in an area where window displays are prominent, so the idea that these windows drives sales feels very outdated. It reminds me too much of Mannequin and that movie is almost 30 years old. The entire premise seemed off and wasted the good performances of Leigh and Campbell.
If there was one thing Window Wonderland got right, it was the chemistry between Leigh and Campbell. For a bickering love story to work, the two people in it need to have good timing between them, and most of it comes from how comfortable they are in scenes together. On the flip side, and I don’t know if this was intentional, the scenes between Leigh and Cameron Mathison (All My Children) were painful to watch and very stiff. Now, the reasoning behind that is either bad chemistry or bad acting, and honestly, I couldn’t tell which. If Mathison planned to play his character to be the complete opposite of Campbell’s in every way, then he succeeded. I’m leaning more toward he’s just not a very good actor.
They have a yoga Santa. The end is nigh.
A good we hate each other because we secretly love each story can be very engaging, and carry an otherwise boring movie. Leigh and Campbell are fantastic, and try their best to drag this lifeless plot to its conclusion.
The movie is about decorating windows for Christmas shoppers, which is something I don’t have any experience with but it did allow the film to fill most of the scenes with some sort of Christmas item. Wish it had a little more music in it, but the visuals more than make up for it.
Christmas-ness Score: 4 out of 5
I could write things here to try to sum up my feelings on the movie, but this photo of Chyler Leigh pretty accurately represents my feelings.