'Down Home Christmas: 5 Movie Collection'
(Hilarie Burton, Robert Buckley, Jana Kramer, Beverley Mitchell, Stephen Colletti, Larisa Oleynik, Aaron Ashmore, Alan Thicke, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Head Home for the Holidays! Celebrate the Season with the gift of love, laughter and these five delightful holiday movies from Mill Creek Entertainment.
DVD: First up is 'The Christmas Contract' (2018, starring: Hilarie Burton, Robert Buckley, Danneel Ackles, Antwon Tanner, Jason London, Tyler Hilton, Cheryl Ladd, and Bruce Boxleitner).
A recently-single woman dreads the thought of going back to her hometown in Louisiana for Christmas when she finds out her ex-boyfriend will be there with his new girlfriend.
Personally, I loved One Tree Hill so I was looking forward to this. Indeed, five people from the cast come together here for a lovely Lifetime movie that has everything.
The movie itself is good, warm, and cozy, and even the secondary characters were amazing. The chemistry was off the charts (of course, they are friends off screen), but sure, the plot was nothing special (we've seen this a thousand or more times), but Hilarie and Robert (Tyler, Danneel and Antwon) made it special for me.
Then comes 'Hometown Christmas' (2018, starring: Beverley Mitchell, Stephen Colletti, Erin Cahill, Brian McNamara, and Melissa Gilbert).
A woman has big plans to resurrect her town's live nativity, a beloved tradition that her late mother used to organize. Things become complicated, however, when she realizes she'll have to work with her former high school sweetheart.
This one follows the cheesy holiday movie formula quite nicely and best of all, it stars one of my favorite actresses of all time: Melissa Gilbert. So, because I'm a Little House on the Prairie fan for life, this made this movie all the more lovely to me.
I mean, sure, the story of a rekindling a romance has been done so many times before, but the cast is led by Beverly Mitchell and Stephen Colletti and they are quite appealing and even cute together.
Then comes 'Christmas in Mississippi' (2017, starring: Jana Kramer, Wes Brown, Faith Ford, Barry Bostwick, and Richard Karn).
Photographer Holly Logan (Jana Kramer) returns to her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi for Christmas. The town is resurrecting their traditional holiday light show and now Holly must spend the next few days with the man who broke her heart.
So, again, sure, there are only so many Christmas rom-com stories and plot devices in the world and this movie uses a few of them, but it also weaves them together well and, maybe, with a new twist or two 9I won't give anything away here!)
We have the high school sweethearts, Holly and Mike, whose relationship didn't end well. There is a cute kid and in this case his Dad is in the military overseas while Mike, his uncle takes care of him. There is an important job at stake as the holiday approaches. There is the small town banding together. And probably more, of course!
Up next is 'Christmas on the Bayou' (2013, starring: Hilarie Burton, Tyler Hilton, Randy Travis, Markie Post, and Ed Asner).
A divorced workaholic executive goes back to her hometown to spend Christmas with her son and mother. Through a rekindled romance and a small miracle, she discovers where her heart truly belongs.
This is one of those movies that makes one feel like it's really Christmas in the South. No sudden snowfall at the end. It is St Martinville, Louisiana, after all.
However, that wouldn't make a difference in some Christmas romance movies. 'Christmas on the Bayou' is a feel good movie and, remarkably, isn't close to even being corny!
Ed Asner is great as Papa Noel. Is he the REAL Papa Noel or not? The other actors and actresses are perfect in their roles. The accents aren't over the top and the fact that it's still warm in December in Louisiana isn't lost in this film.
Finally we get 'Wish Upon A Christmas' (2015, starring: Larisa Oleynik, Aaron Ashmore, and Alan Thicke).
A Corporate actuary goes back to her old hometown to shut down a factory. The owner is her old high school sweetheart who thinks she has come to save it. Perhaps a little Christmas magic can save the day?
For me, the best thing about this movie is that it's not entirely clear whether the twists of fate are supernatural (magic, Santa, or an angel) or a mix of coincidence, good timing, and trying over and over until getting the desired result.
Accordingly, the leads are played by seasoned fantasy/sci-fi actors Larisa Oleynik (The Secret World of Alex Mack, 3rd Rock From The Sun, & Pretty Little Liars), Aaron Ashmore (Smallville, Warehouse 13, & Killjoys) and Christie Laing (Once Upon A Time & Arrow).
They successfully act down to earth in odd situations. Another nice element is the Southern setting. There is the subtlety of rustic decorations and Spanish moss without exaggerating the setting. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.