Much Ado About Christmas

“You’ve been watching too many superhero movies,” said the young miss.

I was telling her about my nightmare of getting kidnapped with her and her mom and being threatened with death in vats of acid, so there would be no remnants of our remains, no sign of a crime. At choir practice last night I mentioned the exchange to friends and remarked that maybe I should switch to Hallmark or something.

“No, no,” the guys said.

“You’re under too much stress,” another singer mentioned. I didn’t think so. Really.

When I got home, my wife mentioned she found a movie that looked interesting. When I asked her, she hadn’t watched it yet–just hit up the preview. So we settled in for a viewing. I’ve always favored Shakespeare’s lighter side, and I figured I could always make fun of it with the young miss if the film went south.

But I was pleasantly surprised at my viewing. This movie is now my guiltiest Christmas pleasure. Some notable points:

  • Aside from the similar names, the plot’s not quite the classic Much Ado. Yes, there’s a misunderstanding that threatens love for the pictured couple (left) but there’s no fake dying.
  • Beatrice and “Ben” are supporting players.
  • While modern places like London, Chicago, and Monte Carlo are mentioned, the mountain-surrounded fictional city of Winterstone is a setting not quite in the real world. It’s not just that the December decorations are in full array. There’s a kind of toy-like vibe in the homes, offices, and even the karaoke joint. They do use American paper money–something that might not happen in Romania (film location) or Canada (the home of the production company).
  • Scheming to get a marketing account is about as “evil” as the bad guys get, but a lot of people would just call it business.
  • The love story hinges on the precipice of a misunderstanding–not really an outright lie like many of the more “padded” Hallmark-style romances.
  • They actually do a “religious” Christmas carol at the karaoke bar–“It Came Upon The Midnight Clear.” Lots of secular Christmas songs, otherwise.
  • The boss of the ad agency is actually pretty nice, unlike most Hallmark bosses who seem opposed to their underlings finding love. He has a friendly camaraderie with his employees. I was thinking how much like my boss he is: positive, confident, consultative. I guess it doesn’t only happen in fantasy works.

This movie is very definitely urban fantasy by genre. Nothing explicitly magical aside from the rapport among the characters. And the nice boss. And the flashing light at the meet-cute.

I know that Christmas/romance mash-ups aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I think this is the best made-for-tv Christmas film I’ve seen. Everything from a Christmas-themed car to the persistent light fluffy snowfall to the mix between friendly activities in apartments, coffeeshops, and even workplaces looks well done with attention to detail. Skeptics, view at your own risk, but holiday romantics will enjoy.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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