December 23, 2011 3 Comments

Making wise judgment calls is not Martha Evans’ (Kristy Swanson) strong suit. So far she has made two grievous misjudgments
– decisions that have left her alone with three small children. Married as a young woman without the smarts she has now, her husband turns out to be a real jerk. As a result, she leaves the marriage with a small daughter, Mary Ellen. Then she’s swept off her feet by a charming cowboy with a son, Miles. After a whirlwind romance, they marry and less than a year later, baby Lily joins their combined family. It doesn’t take long for Martha to realize this marriage is not a match made in heaven… and then Cal walks out, taking all their meager savings with him. Packing up her three children, Martha travels as far as her limited cash and beater car will take her.   

‘A CHRISTMAS WISH’ (2011). A review of the Hallmark Channel film also called 'A Root Beer Christmas' with Kristy Swanson. © Rissi JC
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Her journey ends in a small town where she manages a job at the small diner run by a kindly widow named Trudy (Tess Harper). Although the crusty owner is reluctant to rent to a stranger, she finds lodgings with the small motel at the edge of town and sets about building a new life. Working for minimum wage, Martha finds herself desperate to make this move work for her kids. She cannot find a place to call home on her limited budget, Trudy is thinking of selling the diner and further complicating matters are the attentions of a local policeman (K.C. Clyde) who takes an interest in seeing Martha remain in the small town.

This flick does pleasantly surprise me. It isn’t the usual syrupy goodness that is the hallmark of the Hallmark channel, although it fits the general mold. There is the usual boatload of sentimentality but for the most part, it’s more realistic. And let’s just admit it, we love this. The movie does have a bit of a depressing notion, but I think this actually works in its favor. A Christmas Wish (also known as A Root Beer Christmas) has a “gritty” realism without becoming a sob story. Acting isn’t half-bad either (Danielle Churchran also stars, Saving Sarah Cain) although there are some over-exaggerated scenes.

Despite average production qualities, this has a good idea behind the folly of a simple-minded script. Martha develops a sweet friendship with several people in the town, and in the end, they reward her with what she is materialistically searching for. Her daughter ‘Mel’ is a faithful believer and often encourages her mother to just pray – plus the burgeoning romance Martha and Joe is really adorable. Trace elements of faith in God are present as a result of the challenges Martha faces, and it’s the “faith of a child” that ultimately brings Martha to the point in her life where she realizes she needs something more to count on than her self-reliance. Nearly all of the characters are likable although they usually fall into the “trap” of being simple folks. 

Scenery is pretty and even with a cute conclusion that is all but tied up with a bow, A Christmas Wish has its own unique wealth of faith. It just might put us in a pensive mood in getting there.

Content: there are some brief and mild sensual remarks, and “adult” conversation revolves around the mistakes one person has made. Miles is bullied in school – he receives a black eye [off-camera]. The kids aren’t always obedient. A Christmas Wish is TV-PG.  

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com January 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    I watched this one this Christmas. I liked it. :) That tree they painted was so pretty.

    • Rissi January 28, 2014 at 12:08 AM

      It was really sweet as I remember, Juju! The premise was less cheery than most Christmas movies which was nice since it was more realistic than not – and sadly, life can be hard. Glad you enjoyed it, too! :)

      …and I agree! That artwork is lovely. Wish I could do that. :)


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