Plot: Kylie (Lacey Chabert) is hopeful things are about to take off for her, with dreams of her own bakery and a proposal from her boyfriend in her sights. After all, she has been a great partner for her beau Alex (Lane Edwards) and her skills in the kitchen are elite, so her goals seem more than reasonable. But those dreams are dashed in short order, as a dinner that seemed to have romantic promise fizzles out, prompting her to dump Alex and her denied bank loan seems to signal an end to the bakery hopes, two hard hits in a row. A glimmer of hope appears when she earns a place at the finals of a prestigious baking competition, but bad luck strikes again when her oven breaks down. With no other options, she reaches out to an ex (Lea Coco) who runs a restaurant to use his kitchen and thankfully, he agrees. Can Kyle turn things around and not only win the competition, but maybe even some romance?

Entertainment Value: If you can bake really good cookies, you’re always in trouble in these Hallmark movies and The Sweetest Christmas is no exception, with a blend of cookies, romance, and the magic of Christmas. The narrative here is of course in line with the usual Hallmark holiday romance formula, but predictable isn’t bad in the case of these movies. As I’ve said before, these are more or less comfort food style content, so fans don’t mind the repeated storylines and such. In the case of The Sweetest Christmas, the focus is on the romance and Kylie’s attempts to improve her life, rather than humor, which I didn’t love. I prefer the more romantic comedy style Hallmark movies, rather than the slower paced, more emotion driven ones, but at the same time, I know there’s an ample market for both. This one is fine if you prefer that more serious take, as Lacey Chabert is a dependable lead and the movie hits a lot of the usual Hallmark notes, even if it doesn’t stand out much from the crowd. If you’re a Hallmark fan who prefers the more romantic, serious pictures over the lighter, comedic ones, then you might enjoy The Sweetest Christmas.

As she is one of Hallmark’s chosen ones, it is no surprise to find Lacey Chabert here in the lead and she delivers a solid effort. I would think by this point, she has these kind of roles down to a science and while they’re not demanding performances, she brings some energy to her work in most cases. And to me, a little energy or enthusiasm can go a long way, as some performers phone in these made for television roles, so you can tell she puts in some effort. The material doesn’t give her a lot of chances to shine, so her presence feels a little restrained and that’s not great news, since she can handle humor and drama well enough. But in the end, she is a more than capable lead and always likable, which is enough in this case. Lea Coco and Lane Edwards are her romantic interests in The Sweetest Christmas and they’re fine, though as usual for Hallmark hunks, not asked to do all that much. Chabert is the real attraction here, so her beaus just offer some supporting performances. The cast also includes Jill Morrison, Lara Gilchrist, and Jonathan Adams.

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