There seems to be an unwritten rule for TV movies nowadays that, if possible, anything with a plot utilising time travel should cast Christopher Lloyd in there somewhere. Main role, cameo, it doesn’t matter. Just have Doc available, letting viewers know that you know the best time travel expert in modern cinema.
Just In Time For Christmas has both an element of time travel and the presence of Christopher Lloyd (here playing a kindly grandfather). The plot revolves around Lindsay Rogers (Eloise Mumford), a psychology professor who may just get everything she ever dreamed of. She is offered a position at Yale, and is also proposed to by her boyfriend, Jason (Michael Stahl-David). But it seems that the two things may be incompatible, providing her with a potentially crucial, and life-changing, dilemma. Thankfully, an angelic type of figure, a coachman in the guise of William Shatner, offers Lindsay a chance to see what her life will look like three years down the line.
Magical and enjoyable, if unspectacular, Just In Time For Christmas works better than some thanks to the cast. Which is something I say a lot at this time of year, because it is usually just the different faces making these films distinguishable from one another.
Director Sean McNamara has a varied selection of TV and film to his credit, including a number of *shudder* Baby Geniuses sequels (or offshoots, I have not yet been brave enough to explore any of those movies), but he seems to respond fairly well to the script, written by Helen Frost and Don MacLeod. Frost and MacLeod have been a working writing team for only a few years now, still perhaps getting used to writing films with certain expectations to fulfil, but they do a good job here.
Mumford and Stahl-David are good leads, the former is pleasant company and the latter embodies all of those great qualities that the male leads in these movies need, but without being as bland as so many of them are. Lloyd keeps popping up just often enough to remind you that he's in the movie, which was a tactic I welcomed, and Laura Soltis plays the mother of Mumford's character, and ends up only used for a few scenes mainly bookending the main section. Tess Atkins plays Becca, someone who has grown a LOT closer to Jason over the course of the three years that have happened in the blink of an eye, and she does well for someone with arguably the most thankless role of the lot.
Interesting in the way that it's not JUST another tale of a successful business woman realising that her career and achievements mean nothing without the love of a good man to keep her warm and cosy in the evenings, Just In Time For Christmas walks a fine line throughout. It's easy to view the lead as someone being quite selfish and disruptive, considering the film is allowing her to see the consequences of her actions, but it's also enjoyable to see something like this that doesn't force a main character to deal only in absolutes. There's room for compromise, room for difficulties on the way to real happiness, and that's probably a better lesson than the messages delivered to viewers by hundreds and hundreds of other Christmas TV movies.
P.S. Here is a huge list of every Christmas movie I have ever reviewed, either here or over at Flickfeast.
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