Plot: Callie (Rachel Boston) has always had dreams of being a prestigious chef, but despite her impressive skills, that dream remains unfulfilled. She can work in the magic in the kitchen and not just when it comes to the food, as she can also craft remarkable ice sculptures to serve as centerpieces. After years of putting off her dream, she takes the first step and lands a job at an acclaimed country club, though she is washing dishes, not creating signature meals. Her boss is Chef Gloria (Brenda Strong), a respected culinary force and the annual winner of the local ice sculpting competition, no less. On her first day, Callie runs into childhood friend David (David Alpay), who is thrilled to see her going after her dream, then even signs her up for the ice sculpting contest without telling her. Now Callie finds herself in direct competition with her new boss, but even if she wins, will it hurt her chances at the club?
Entertainment Value: I know what you’re thinking, another formulaic Hallmark holiday romance, but you’re wrong this time, as Ice Sculpture Christmas has, well…ice sculptures. The narrative is in line with Hallmark’s usual output, a woman trying to balance the dream of being a chef with hard luck romance and visions of her past, just with those tricky ice sculptures mixed in. I do think it at least spices up the recipe a little, as it means less scenes about cooking or baking, which I think is a welcome change pace in the Hallmark genre. I can’t say the ice sculpting scenes are dynamic or produce eye popping works of frozen art, but again, in these kind of predictable, comfort food movies, even small shifts help fresh things up, I think. I found this one to be middle of the road as far as Hallmark romances, a little humor, a little romance, and a harmless approach, but not memorable. The dynamic between Callie and Gloria proves to be the most interesting element here, as the romance doesn’t have much chemistry and the humor is passable, but not consistent. So not one that stood out or ranks as one of Hallmark’s more fun entries. Even so, it will likely be a decent watch for those who appreciate Hallmark’s holiday romances.
A hallmark of Hallmark is likable leads with solid charm and Ice Sculpture Christmas follows that tradition. Rachel Boston is a natural for this kind of light, romantic comedy type material. She is a competent lead and is always likable, the kind of performer that can make you root for her and in this genre, that is important, since liking the lead is what drives the entire movie. I would have liked her to have some sharper material to work with, but she does what she can here and I don’t think the script is bad, just not that original or creative. I think Boston and costar David Alpay are able to play off each well in terms of dialogue and fun banter, but there isn’t a lot of chemistry here. Which isn’t a huge concern, since the romance is so light and the lack of chemistry isn’t a hindrance to this kind of material. I was pleased to see Brenda Strong here, as she adds a solid effort and a capable supporting presence. The cast also includes Aliyah O’Brien, Paul McGillion, and Leanne Lapp.