Christmas in Homestead (2016) – Small Town Charms Meets Hollywood
With close to thirty original films airing over the course of two months, there’s sure to be a Hallmark film to suit everyone. Whether it be a film about a heavenly being finding the path to rescuing herself or a woman being granted a gift of courage, there’s plenty of swoons to go round. One of their latest additions is, in my opinion, also one of their best.
As an actress known for her leading role in a popular fantasy series, Jessica McEllis (Taylor Cole) is ready for the next stepping stone. She’s about to leave California for her latest movie shoot. Not only is she playing the lead role in the film, she’s also pulling double duty and risking everything to produce the film.
Upon her arrival in Iowa, Jessica expects anything save for what she discovers. Her biggest fan lives in Iowa in the form of 10-year-old Sophie (Brooklyn Rae Silzer). A precocious girl Jessica finds herself unexpectedly bonding with. Along with Sophie and her aunt, Zoe (Katrina Norman), Jessica also finds herself drawn to Sophie’s widowed dad, the inn keeper and mayor, Matt (Michael Rady).
If there’s one thing I like more than a cute Christmas movie, it’s one with plenty of modern fairy tale elements. This script does boast just such a premise. True no one is actually a royal, but there is something of a fairy tale notion that takes root. We experience it in the Hollywood royal finding her home and heart in the homegrown Iowa town, and the good, but ordinary guy who wins her heart.
When I read the synopsis of this one, I’ll confess I had an “Oh, no! Not again!” reaction. Why, you may ask? Well, oftentimes I’m so weary of the a.) girl-comes-to-small-town ploy and b.) actress-comes-to-small-town ploy. So, yep, this one was a double whammy that, upon first impressions, didn’t impress. But I was determined to watch this one if given the chance because its leading man is none other than Michael Rady, my crush from the short-lived Emily Owens, M.D. Needless to say, up until now, I’ve been game to see Rady in anything to help soothe the whole Emily dissing him situation.
Happily, this little gem proved me wrong in so many ways. The acting is, of course, charming. Michael’s leading man is wonderful, and I respected the way he loved not only his daughter, but comes to cherish Jessica. Or at least in as much as can be accomplished in 90 minutes. Also a sweet part of the script was Matt and Zoe’s relationship. I haven’t seen such an easy-going or genuine brother/sister friendship in a film for a while. Their teasing banter and comfortable ease with each other is a testament to the actors playing the roles. Though she looks different, our leading lady, Taylor Cole will be remembered from Hallmark’s Appetite for Love. Taylor is the perfect actress for the role; she has the elegant looks to pull off a popular Hollywood star.
It didn’t take long for this script to rope me into its Christmas-y mementos, and accomplish its task which is to thoroughly enchant. I watched this one over the Thanksgiving holiday with my mother, and both of us were smiling big before ten minutes were gone. Between the cuteness of Matt’s daughter, Sophie (don't kids always make a story cuter!?) to the unique characters identifiers, this one is not to be missed. The fact that the story, though familiar in a comforting way, goes in the opposite way of clichés, is reason alone to enjoy this one. At the risk of contradicting myself, the setting also assisted in the cozy feeling of warmth and joyful shenanigans.
In short, Christmas in Homestead is like a treasured Christmas ornament. Something you look forward to seeing on the tree year after year.