Although it may seem surprising to some of you who know me, I try not to actively dislike people, or things, just because they are based in any faith. I like the idea of personal faith, and I don't mind if some people read a book, take various lessons from it, and apply those lessons to their everyday life. I dislike the situation when it affects others, usually from people who decide things should be read literally on one page and just acknowledged on the next.
This is my way of saying that I know I was not the target audience member for Christmas Mingle AKA Christian Mingle (AKA Christian Mingle: The Movie). But I went into it with an open mind, an unwavering love for Lacey Chabert, and the knowledge that it would be another Christmas movie to mark off my list.
Written and directed by Corbin Bernsen, who also gives himself a cameo role for one scene, Christian Mingle is the story of Gwyneth Hayden (Chabert), a marketing executive who thinks she has everything she needs in life, except for a man. Her friends keep telling her that she will be the last to settle down, and they complain that they, and their husbands, are running out of men to put forward. After seeing the advert on TV, Gwyneth creates a profile on Christian Mingle. She ends up dating the lovely Paul Wood (Jonathan Patrick Moore). It all starts off as something she views as nice, if odd, but soon becomes something more. Which may lead to a problem when people realise that Gwyneth isn't actually an active Christian.
There's nothing REALLY that wrong with Christian Mingle, in terms of it being a TV movie that uses Christmas as a backdrop for a blossoming romance. I mean, despite my ignorance of most faiths, Christians tend to view Christmas as a time of year for more than just hoping some jolly fat guy doesn't forget to break into your home and leave some toys. The technical side of things is perfectly okay, and the cast also includes Stephen Tobolowsky, David Keith, and Morgan Fairchild. There's also a potentially fun sub-plot about Chabert trying to market a pill that the maker (John O'Hurley) claims can cure baldness. Saidah Arrika Ekulona also does a good job of being a Christian who doesn't interfere until she is asked for help.
There is, however, also something really wrong with Christian Mingle. A number of things, actually. The positive depiction of people living by their faith is not one of them. The fact that the film is one big advert for Christian Mingle, and for the way in which Christianity can fill any gap in your life, is. The makers of the movie are quite entitled to do that, which isn't the point I am making. It just sets the whole film up as something even blander and uninvolving than most of these kinds of movies, because you know that they're not going to make the characters suffer too much, and Chabert will find happiness in some form as long as she finds her faith. Another big problem with the movie is not unique, it's just overdone, and that is how desperate the film makes Chabert. She MUST find a man, her life cannot be complete without one, it's almost shameful as she discusses the situation with her friends at the start of the movie.
You'll be unsurprised to know that I didn't love this one, but you may be surprised to know that I didn't hate it. It gets some bonus points for allowing the character played by Moore to be self-aware in his approach to life, and his old-fashioned attitudes that come from a good place. And if I can let I, Robot off with the Converse product placement then I can't exactly criticise Christian Mingle too much for selling itself in the movie named for it.
Not one I'd recommend, but far from the worst I have seen. I almost docked an extra point for it not being Christmassy enough though, before remembering that the word Christmas literally starts with Christ.
You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy the movie here.