Love at the Christmas Table (2012)

November 21, 2013

All television Christmas flicks seem to suffer the same fate
– mediocre scripts. With exception to Hallmark Hall of Fame, most of the
festive movies aren’t inventive nor do they bring the best out in their actors.
That being said, I still persist in collecting any that come to DVD… and love
every second of it. 

30 years ago, love between Sam Reed and Kat blossomed… or at
least a friendship did when the four-year-old kids were brought together by
their father’s joining in business and thus begin their yearly Christmases
together at the children’s table. Each year the neighborhood gathers at the
home of neighbor Elizabeth (Lea Thompson) who throws a celebration unlike any
other and each year, the decorations take up more corners of her house.
Remembering all the Christmases gone by – including Sam as a 13-year-old
crushing on an uninterested, bookish Kat, college years and the fight that kept
Sam from returning home for five years – Sam (Dustin Milligan) finally returns
home to his small town with the hope that finally
he and Kat (Danica McKeller) will lay the past to rest… and the one question
Sam wants to ask her will result in wiping the slate clean to begin afresh.

Airing on Lifetime during last year’s Christmas programming,
this story is actually one of the more unusual and sweet scripts in its genre, and
for that, I applaud it. Unfortunately, the story isn’t well produced. Primarily
the story unfolds in flashbacks, starting with a four-year-old Sam and Kat in
the 1980’s all the way up until they are 27-year-old adults who are still in a “holding
pattern,” neither one being sure what they want from life. As usual their adult
lives are about them owning up to their own choices and learning to deal with
them, and more importantly facing what it is they are most afraid of – what
they want out of life. Their younger years are full of teen angst, confusion
and changing perspectives which is regrettably limiting to the present
timeframe and though I understand why so much time is spent in the past –
believe me, that is needed when it becomes clear what Sam’s intentions are, I
cannot help but feeling cheated out of knowing who Sam and Kat become rather
than who they were. Upon reflection maybe this is best considering the ending
does offer some semblance of delight at the promise of what’s to come and
therefore, the unknown is better than showing us. 

Anyone looking for festive cheer is in for a treat with this
tele-film – the halls are decked to the max and there is rarely a frame that
doesn’t have some sort of glittery cheer. Grounding that overcompensation of
Christmas, is the attachment of the classic Great
to a modern film and though it reaches in being believable, it
adds layers to a character and allows for a cute ending that makes us want to
say, “finally!” (Oh, and for the
classic lit lover, there are some other references – including a declaration
that put me in mind of Edward and Elinor.) Each of the conflicting elements
that keep apart Sam and Kat are of the “usual” variety and same as always,
sometimes you feel like shaking them and yelling, “just say it!” but no,
instead we have to go through the two of them saying things that cut deep and
drive wedges. To be fair, I suppose if we didn’t have that there wouldn’t be a
movie… and of course, we have to have one even if it does use every (and yes, I do realize I’m being repetitive by saying this, but it is true…) cliché in
the book. 

There’s a lovely sequence involving a silly dance and some
cute scenes with Sam, Kat and the neighborhood kids being goofy which adds realness
to the story – who among us doesn’t get silly at family gatherings? One of the
biggest hiccups is that the majority of the film takes place in one location;
this almost makes the movie “run together” and seem as if the entire 90 minutes
is one big party instead of getting down to the important business. Despite the
flaws and filmmaking flubs, one thing the script does is bring happiness and
laughter to a room – and as everyone knows, laughter is the best medicine.

(What to know: there are a few sexual innuendoes that crop
up at various points in the film. Throughout the entire movie, characters drink
various alcoholic drinks; no one ever seems to be without some sort of drink in
their hand. There may be a few instances of profanity – a running gag involves
a “swear jar.”)


  • Ella

    November 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    This sounds fun and silly.
    Just my type of movie:)

    Thanks for reviewing it!

    1. Rissi

      November 22, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Yes! Fun and silly rules at my house over the holidays, Ella – that's pretty much all we watch. It's way more fun that way. :)

      Thanks for reading! :)

  • Gwendolyn Gage

    November 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I've been looking for a fun Christmas movie to watch. Thanks for the review, Rissi! And yes, it is very hard for Christmas-themed movies to break out of mediocre scripts. They all have the same fun, sweet feel, and sometimes that's just what we're looking for around the holidays. :-)

    P.S. I'm totally LOVING "There You'll Find Me". Yep, I'll be reading more of Jenny B. Jones… Thanks sooooo much for recommending!

    1. Rissi

      November 22, 2013 at 1:12 am

      *High Five* I do agree, Gwendolyn. I know I put these TV movies down when I'm reviewing them – and I don't want to be mean about it – however, they are mediocre in the script and then every once in a while, one comes along that "wows" its viewer. No matter my broken record reviewing, I love these flicks – as you say, they're just what the holiday ordered. :)

      Oh, yes! I'm so pleased you're liking There You'll Find Me. It remains one of my all-time, best favorites. Will be watching for your review. :)

  • Renee (SteelerGirl83)

    December 4, 2013 at 4:29 am

    Christmas movies are the only "bad" movies that I watch and love. They do seem poorly written most of the time but the mindless cheer is great around the holidays LOL! I saw this one last year and I liked it. It was a bit frustrating that they took so long to get together, but in the end it was a flick. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Rissi

      December 5, 2013 at 1:10 am

      Same here, Renee; they're not "bad" in a "bad" way (if that makes any sense!?), it's just I feel like the actors and writers "dumb" down their material when they don't have too. That being said, I still love 'em; it's this exact kind of movie I want to watch around the holidays.

      I liked this one too – once I adjusted to the realization that the movie wasn't going to deal in the present, that is. :)

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