Starring Lyndsy Fonseca and Michael Rady
Addy (Fonseca) lives a life that’s all about Christmas—she prepares Christmas marketing plans all year round. This Christmas she’s been invited home by her brother, Connor (Andrew David Bridges), who’s about to propose to his fiancé. When her car falters, she takes it to the town mechanic, Hunter (Rady). Facing pressure from her parents to do Christmassy things, fed-up Addy makes a wish that Christmas didn’t exist. Soon she’s in a car accident, is rescued by Hunter, and finds herself in a black-and-white world. Worse, everyone around her has no idea what Christmas is. She and Hunter work to restore the holiday and return Christmas spirit and color to the world.
Michael Rady. Rady is a consistently fine actor and shone in a quiet way as Hunter in this movie. Hunter was a gentle, thoughtful soul, a misfit hiding from the world. He appreciated Abby more than she appreciated him—at least until that final kiss. And thanks to Rady, Hunter’s devastation after failing to be there for his grandfather was genuinely moving. The actor was a highlight of this film.
An intriguing premise. I usually love fantasy elements and whimsy in Hallmark movies—give me ghosts, time travelers, or statues that come to life and I’m usually on board. I liked this movie’s original premise that Christmas could be forgotten, and that the way to restore it for individuals would be to trigger memories that would help heal them from their hurts. However, the movie fell short of the potential of its premise.
Compelling visuals. Combining black and white and color within the same movie, even within the same image, to represent disparate worlds isn’t new. The Wizard of Oz did it back in 1939, and so did Pleasantville in 1998. The technique made for eye-catching visuals, and it was used effectively in Where Are You, Christmas? to underscore the difference between those who were aware of Christmas and those who weren’t.
Though I admired a few aspects of this movie, I felt little love for it.
Hallmark meets The Twilight Zone. By definition, Christmas movies should fill you with warm feelings—at least much of the time—but this one didn’t. Instead, some aspects felt nightmarish. The black-and-white world Addy was trapped in was a bleak place where unhappy people were unpleasant to her and called her crazy. Even Addy’s own family gaslighted her, thinking her mentally ill for believing that Christmas existed, and they saw her as a troublemaker for trying to bring the holiday to people. There was nothing magical or heartwarming about how people behaved, and it overshadowed moments in which the characters discovered Christmas and found joy.
Addy’s father. Jim O’Heir gave a convincing performance as Addy’s overbearing dad. While both he and Addy’s mom (Julie Warner) were seeking a closer relationship to Addy, Nick sounded like a broken record as he repeatedly brought up how disconnected he felt from her and told her she needed to come home more often. The badgering was tiresome, and with a father like that, I couldn’t blame her for not coming home often! He also yelled and ripped down Christmas decorations and accused her of causing chaos. Though Addy and Nick did patch things up, it came too late in the movie.
Scant romance. There was little chance to show Addy’s romance with Hunter, as the movie was too busy showing the return of various characters, some of them minor, to color. Though not every Hallmark movie needs to centre on romance, this one would have benefited from more focus on the couple. The leads’ chemistry was meager because they shared too little screen time. And had Addy been a bit less obsessive-compulsive about restoring Christmas, she might have become emotionally involved with Hunter earlier. She was so distracted, she was closed off to him, and things didn’t heat up between them until the last few minutes.
Lapses in logic. Some aspects of this movie didn’t make sense. Why did Addy turn black and white in the first place if she was aware of Christmas? And if the way to restore Christmas to people and turn them from black and white to color was to help them tap into positive memories, then it was logical that this could have worked for Addy too. Instead, it took pursuing her own happiness—kissing Hunter—for her to change. The film’s rules for returning to the Christmassy world obviously didn’t to apply to her. And in the supposedly Christmas-free world, traces of the holiday remained—some decorations Addy found, and a Christmas sweater she used to jog her teacher friend’s memory.
My grade for Where Are You, Christmas?: C-
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.