Starring Rachel Skarsten and Andrew Walker
Kate (Skarsten), a pilot, embarks on her first private assignment—flying a wealthy family of four, the Sharpes, to Switzerland for the holidays. But she’s forced to make an emergency landing at Christmas Island, Nova Scotia, when the town’s air traffic controller, Oliver (Walker), warns her of stormy weather over the Atlantic. The Sharpes feel stuck in the middle of nowhere, and Mrs. Sharpe (Kate Drummond) asks Kate to entertain their two children. Desperate to keep her job as the family’s pilot, Kate agrees. But she hates Christmas and doesn’t know the town, so she and Oliver team up to plan Christmas activities. Both Kate and the Sharpes discover their Christmas spirit, and Kate finds love with Oliver.
A dramatic ending. When Oliver suddenly learned that the weather had cleared up and it was safe for Kate to fly at last, they said a tearful goodbye at the lobster trap tree-lighting event. Kate was just about to take off with the Sharpes when Oliver, having rushed to the airport, confessed his feelings for her. Simultaneously, the Sharpes decided to stay a few more days in Christmas Island, giving Kate more time with Oliver. The last few scenes gave this movie some much-needed vitality.
A miserable family. I couldn’t warm up to the Sharpes. Though I could understand their disappointment at unexpectedly being grounded, they whined to Kate and anyone else within earshot about it. The teenage daughter, Kali (Britt Loder), was sullen about exerting herself in any way and seemed spoiled. Mrs. Sharpe placed the blame for the delay squarely on Kate’s shoulders, as if the pilot could have controlled the weather, and it was nervy of her to ask Kate to be a nanny to her children. For too much of the movie, Mrs. Sharpe treated Kate badly, and I couldn’t comprehend why Kate thought of working for this family as a job she couldn’t afford to lose. And it was irritating when Mrs. Sharpe called downstairs to request that Oliver’s father bring her coffee, as if she was at a hotel and requesting room service. These overprivileged characters got on my nerves, and because of that, it was hard to care about their predictable transformation into better people.
A too-rapid turnaround. Yes, the Sharpes did change their tune. They became happier and kinder, and Mrs. Sharpe even thanked Kate for going above and beyond for her family. Disconnected from each other at first, the family engaged in local Christmas activities, including candy making, a lobster dinner, building the lobster trap tree, tree trimming, and sorting through letters to Santa. But their turnaround happened too quickly and wasn’t believable. All it really seemed to take for Mr. Sharpe (Jefferson Brown) to become a nicer person was hoisting some lobster traps, while for Mrs. Sharpe, it was sewing some dresses. For Kali, it was working with Oliver’s father at the post office. But one moment Kali resisted helping, and the next she was gung-ho to get the letters to Santa out. There was no apparent reason for her change of heart, which left me shaking my head.
A lack of chemistry. Andrew Walker is always a likeable presence in Hallmark movies, and this one was no exception. And he can usually be relied upon to generate some sizzle with his female co-stars, but with Rachel Skarsten, whose character was brittle and anxious for too much of this film, the chemistry was weak. As Kate and Oliver, the two actors seemed mismatched, like two people I couldn’t imagine being attracted to one another. Walker has starred in much better movies than this one.
A lack of drama. Apart from the emergency landing in Christmas Island and the almost-departure at the end, not much happened in this movie apart from the usual Christmassy activities. Much like the Sharpes, I felt restless and stuck in limbo during Christmas Island as I waited for something to occur that would pique my interest.
My grade for Christmas Island: D
Caroline Kaiser is a professional book editor who specializes in fiction and memoirs, and she’s been guiding writers toward publication since 2007. Caroline is also the author of two ghostly mystery novels, Virginia’s Ghost and The Spirits of South Drive. Before she embarked on an editing and writing career, she spent many years working in a Toronto auction house as an antiques appraiser. Apart from curling up on the couch and drinking tea as she watches Hallmark movies, Caroline enjoys baking and exploring London, Ontario, the picturesque city she now calls home. Her website is www.carolinekaisereditor.com.