I learned something new this week and it’s all thanks to a Hallmark holiday romance called Broadcasting Christmas. I am diligently watching crappy Christmas movies just as fast as Netflix can release them, and when I posted a quickie review of one starring Dean Cain, some of you were just as quick to point out that Dean Cain is apparently a republican fart box. Frankly, though I haven’t thought of him in 20 years or so, and I certainly don’t follow him on my socials, I was a little surprised I hadn’t heard of it myself. Guess his C-status just doesn’t rate with so many other numpties making the news. So this time I’ll apologize in advance that we’ve got another Cain starrer on our hands.
This time he’s a widowed (widowered?) lawyer raising his kids in the suburbs and just starting to get back into the dating pool. He’s been on a couple of dates with big-headed barista Dani (Kristy Swanson) and without a living ex-wife to tell him this is wildly inappropriate, he not only introduces her to the kids, he allows her to move in over the holidays so they can all bond. Dani is a Disney villain personified – Lady Tremaine mixed Cruella De Vil, with a zany, borderline crazy streak that’s pretty disturbing, especially since Glenn seems not to notice it. His kids sure do though – they may be small but they know gold digger energy when they see it. Despite the fact that she excludes and gets rid of them at every chance she gets, and that she’s stealing jewelry from their dead mother’s coffers, they MAY have given her a second chance, at least for their dad, had she not stooped so low. But Dani really crosses the line when she brings their new but already beloved puppy Belle to a shelter to get euthanized (pause for gasps). She insists she’s just run away, but the kids suspect the truth. Accusations without evidence don’t go over well with their completely oblivious father, so they take matters into their own hands and along with a couple of helpful neighbour kids, they have themselves a little heist adventure on Christmas Eve.
A Belle for Christmas is a family movie rather than a romantic one. Although you’ll still find it has way too much Dean Cain (and too much Swanson, who is so over-the-top evil she feels like a cartoon character), it’s really about the kids. Belle belongs to Elliot (Jet Jurgensmeyer) officially, but big sister Phoebe (Meyrick Murphy) is just as devoted, and the siblings are close, united in their distrust of Dani and their grief for a mother who, let’s not forget, passed away less than a year ago. Elliot’s cocoa-selling, dog-loving crush Riley (Avary Anderson) is along for the ride, as is next door neighbour/Elliot’s best friend Malcolm (Connor Berry). All of these kids are as cute as they are talented, but director Jason Dallas knows a star when he sees one, and he’s made extra room in the film for Berry to shine.
Otherwise, it’s a bland but safe choice for family viewing, with a sweet dog who’s never in any real danger, except maybe of being hugged to death.