Hollywood movie director Max Powers (Danny Glover) is taking a four day long train trip toward Los Angeles along with his trusty assistant Eleanor (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), who he’s been encouraging to finally write a script of her own instead of always doctoring someone else’s, and what better inspiration than an old-timey mode of transportation full of characters just begging to be over-written.
Also on the train: Tom (Dermot Mulroney), a former war correspondent turned lifestyle journalist, a young couple looking to marry on the train despite his parents’ disapproval, a lonely older man, a thief, a chess snob, oh, and a zany woman named Agnes (Joan Cusack) who seems to be in everybody else’s business. Oh and lots of people besides of course, and our two writers mine them for all they’re worth, but wait! The writers are actually of interest themselves. Turns out, they’re former flames. Some have said they were each other’s true loves. And maybe things are sliding back in that direction – or they were until Tom’s fiancée boards the train about halfway through. Drama!!!
Of course, the Hallmark gods are smiling down on the train so the romance WILL BE nurtured, even if a snowstorm has to strand the train on the tracks until true love is confessed.
The Christmas Train is perhaps a smidge more tolerable than the usual schmaltz, so I’m thankful for that, and any reason to see Dermot Mulroney’s dimples is a good one.