CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY (2013). Review of the Andy Garcia and Mary Louise Parker Hallmark Hall of Fame film. Text © Rissi JC /


December 2, 2013 15 Comments

Climbing peaks of emotional heartbreaks balancing against the beautiful still moments of a Christmas theme is a risk. Fortunately, this is one film that pulls it off.  

Christmas in Conway (2013) Hallmark Hall of Fame TV Film

Years ago, as a young college kid, Duncan Mayor (Andy Garcia) proposed to his wife on a Ferris wheel… and it was magical. Many years since and the couple has been happy making a home in their small town. This Christmas is different. Suzy (Mary Louise-Parker) has been battling cancer it’s no longer a matter of if, it’s now a waiting game. Caring for his wife is Duncan’s whole world and in order to make her days special, he undertakes the impossible; he begins building a Ferris wheel in his back yard. The most unexpected gifts come of this Christmas. Including the young in-home nurse, Natalie (Mandy Moore) opening to new possibilities; and it’s in these gifts that Duncan wants the season to be his wife’s most special.  

On a normal day, films that are expressly about good-byes and the turmoil that awaits loved ones is not something I’d be up for; particularly when it’s set against the Christmas season! Luckily, I’ll overlook that in favor of this touching scenario. Instead of being a hindrance, the script is beautiful and the cast is wonderful. All are consummate professionals who put heart into these roles. Somehow the characters don’t have a lot of room to grow; this is for two reasons. The story has a limiting timeframe (both figuratively and literally) and the emphasis is on Duncan coming to terms with the looming darkness. What cumulates is something both beautiful and a proper tearjerker. It’s a bit underwhelming to realize that all the characters are more “supports” to the Ferris wheel projects. Surprisingly, this doesn’t diminish the quality of the storytelling. Of course, the cast pulls all of this off wonderfully.

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CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY (2013). Review of the Andy Garcia and Mary Louise Parker Hallmark Hall of Fame film. Text © Rissi JC /

Garcia and Parker were special together and I absolutely loved Suzy’s free-spirit personality. Whether it’s the terms of endearment she has for the people in her life or the grace with which she came to terms with her illness Parker plays her well. It’s fun seeing Mandy Moore in something again. The progression of her relationship with the Mayors plays out to any viewer’s satisfaction. What really impresses is how this balances its serious side with some lighthearted moments. There are the poignant moments involving Suzy, both with Duncan and even Natalie and Suzy, then a subplot involving a neighborhood decorating tradition which suitably lightens the mood and makes us giggle.

Uncharacteristic to this brand (Hallmark Hall of Fame) there’s a few technical flubs; the sound mixing is a bit out of place with some over exaggerated sounds that “echo,” however it does smooth out at the first commercial break. Perhaps not my very favorite (I’m still quite hung up on Christmas with Holly!) in this long line, Christmas in Conway again shares the importance of living every day to its fullest. There are some nice parallels (romances that end and begin to blossom) and lessons of forgiveness.    

What about you, readers! Did you catch this film – if so, what’d you think? What’s your favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame…?  

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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  • Ella December 2, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Thanks for reviewing this Rissi.
    I missed this movie when it came on last night, but it looked good.

    • Rissi December 3, 2013 at 1:49 AM

      You'll be able to catch encore viewings of this one on the Hallmark Channel, Ella; I think either this weekend or next. Hope you like if you see it. :)

    • Ella December 3, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Thanks Rissi!

    • Rissi December 3, 2013 at 6:31 PM


  • Juju at Tales of December 2, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Sounds like it's ok that I missed this one.

    Great honest review.

    I personally dislike seeing Mary Louise-Parker play a sick person. She does it so well that it makes me sad.

    • Rissi December 3, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      It was one of those tearjerkers, Juju. Sweet, yet the characters weren't fleshed out. Thanks for reading!

      Hey, did you see the Red movies? MLP is in those and she's hilarious – despite her character ailing in this movie, I loved her acting (as usual); she did an excellent job.

  • Renee (SteelerGirl83) December 4, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    I tuned into the last half hour of this one. I know, not really enough to judge but it didn't really grab me, I think the bad accents were throwing me off. I suppose I could have enjoyed it if I had been there from the beginning. My all-time favorite HHoF movie is The Magic of Ordinary Days. What can I say, I'm a sucker for happy endings. :)

    • Rissi December 5, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      This wasn't my favorite, Renee but I did think it was really quite good; there were some precious scenes and messages, and I liked Suzy's character. If you have the Hallmark Channel you can catch an encore viewing if you're interested. :)

      Ooo! Yes, I adore The Magic of Ordinary Days, it's high on my favorites list. Ditto; me, too! Love happy endings – are there any other kind!? ;)

  • Christina Jordan December 16, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    does anyone know the last song that was played at the very end of the movie?

    • Rissi December 17, 2013 at 2:48 AM

      The end song (or the one that plays during the credits…?) is the same as the title ('Christmas in Conway') and it's sung by star, Andy Garcia. Hope that answers your question, Christina. :)

    • Anonymous December 15, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      No, what is the song at the very end during the ferris wheel part….I'm wondering too but can't find anything online

    • Rissi December 15, 2014 at 8:19 PM

      Huh. Not sure then. Hope you two can find it.

      I did see someone name this song also: Top Of The World by Matthew Perryman Jones.

    • Tazrunner December 5, 2015 at 10:50 AM

      The song at the end of the movie is titled Top of the World by Matthew Perryman Jones.

  • Juan May 9, 2020 at 8:21 PM

    I need the name of the song there’s no lyrics in this movie Christmas in Conway when she got amped up to leave with her husband to go to a park they drove halfway and had to drive back because she wasn’t feeling well and it’s a really strong strumming guitar sound that sounded good in that scene How can I find that song it is not from Geoff Zanelli

    • Rissi JC May 15, 2020 at 3:27 PM

      Sorry! I cannot help you there. Hope you find the title.

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