Lauren leaves her boyfriend and her whole life in Boston and boards a train toward a fresh start in Springfield. Only an “obstruction” on the track forces an unforeseen pit stop in the lovely town of Grandon Falls where the railway puts her up in a “charming inn” which is yet another tick in the column of travel by train being far more civilized than by air where you’d be dumped unceremoniously back into an airport with the choice of uncomfortable seats or grubby carpets, sitting shoulder to shoulder with other sweaty travelers, with a voucher for a bag of Cheetos if you’re lucky.
Grandon Falls, nicknamed Christmas Town, turns out to be “very serious about Christmas” and the townspeople are unbelievably nice. Travis, for example, doesn’t correct Lauren (Candace Cameron Bure) when she mistakes him for a cabbie. He schleps her luggage around, drives her into town, gives her a little tour, even finds her alternate accommodation when there’s “no room at the inn.” Oh, and Travis (Tim Rozon) is a single foster dad to a kid with a “heart of gold.” Anyway, he recommends the “heart of our community,” the Christmas cafe, where Lauren finds a framed photograph of her late father, taken 25 years earlier, holding the angel ornament he’d once gifted her. Lauren may have arrived by train – but was she brought here by fate?
As you can tell by my liberal sprinkling of quotation marks, there’s a lot of earnestness in this film that I find a little hard to take. But if you can deal with some extra marshmallow in your cocoa, I can tell this movie is otherwise fulfilling all the Christmas movie requirements. After all, Hallmark has this shit down to a science now.
Candace Cameron Bure, who serves as an executive producer on the film, is Hallmark’s unofficial Queen of Christmas. Other than the Netflix revival of her old show, it’s her bread and butter (and meat and potatoes too, I’d imagine). There’s a lot of heart-warming heart warmth to this film – so much so that I begin to suspect that this little heart of mine prefers flip flops and halter tops. A town this full of people so helpful and obliging can only be two things: either it’s a Christmas movie, or an elaborate set-up for a horror movie where one or many of them is about to do a lot of damage with a long, curved blade. The people are nice – too nice, suspiciously nice – but a Christmas movie is filled with the very best of humanity; all sugar, no spice.