Thursday 14 December 2017

The Flight Before Christmas (2015)

Director Peter Sullivan must surely know his stuff when it comes to Christmas TV movies. Don't believe me? Just check out his list of credits on IMDb. Between his directing AND producing credits, he has had his fingers in a lot of mince pies. And it shows.

The Flight Before Christmas (which, like many other Christmas movies, isn't even original enough to have a title that hasn't been used once or twice before) is a superior example of this type of entertainment. You're not going to get any surprises, these things are all about comfort and contentment as opposed to challenging viewers, but you get some nice moments between two likable leads, and a couple of decent supporting players to help things move along at a decent pace.

Maym Bialik plays Stephanie, a young woman unceremoniously ditched by her boyfriend right before Christmas. This is also right before she was due to move in with him, leaving her technically "between homes", which adds insult to injury. So she decides to head home for Christmas. One coincidence after another sees her spending a lot of time in the company of Michael (Ryan McPartlin). Michael is used to travelling back and forth across the country, maintaining a long-term relationship with the woman he hopes to make his wife one day. If he could only decide on the perfect ring. While forced to endure each other's company, thanks to their flight being diverted and grounded, Stephanie and Michael start to bond. Surprise, surprise.

Written by Jennifer Notas Shapiro, The Flight Before Christmas is not only polished and predictable seasonal fluff, it's also surprisingly, if mildly, less patronising than usual. I admit to being very surprised when I saw that Bialik was starring in this, but I was less surprised as the film started to play out. Within the confines of the film, she still manages to portray a strong-willed and smart woman who doesn't want to define her entire life by her need for a man. Yes, there is a love story here, and Bialik is upset by her enforced single status, but there are a number of moments that allow her to, dare I say it, blossom in the eyes of her male co-star, rather than just have her look pretty and in need of help up until a third act union (which is the more common structure for these films).

Bialik is well-suited to the role, and McPartlin works well with her. He is just the right mix of sweet and ignorantly condescending, learning quickly as he goes along that he may not know as much about love as he thinks he does. Brian Doyle-Murray is the requisite "Santa" figure, in a cameo role that has him onscreen for a few minutes at most, and Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton are enjoyable enough as the couple who run a small hotel in a village that Bialik and McPartlin are forced to spend time in while awaiting rearranged flights.

It might seem as if I have been overselling this one slightly, and I don't want anyone to read this and think they're in for a masterpiece, but this is almost downright progressive compared to so many other TV movies you could end up seeing at this time of year.


Here is a large selection of Christmas movies to enjoy.
And American elves can pick the same set up here.

Admittedly, not exactly an image that aligns with what I have said above

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