Plot: After the death of her parents, Angie (Emma Rigby) has been helping out with her uncle’s catering service, with a hand from her cousin Candace (Sarah Stouffer). But while Candace seems to take all the credit for the business’ success, it is Angie who is the real reason the service thrives. As Christmas approaches, it means not only an increase in business because of all the parties and special events, but also a much anticipated holiday themed masquerade ball. Of course, Candace plans to attend and leave Angie with her hands full tending to the business, but a mishap at the salon means she’s can’t be seen in public, even under a mask. So Angie sneaks off and has a whirlwind night with Nicholas (Peter Porte), the ball’s host. She has to rush off however, to keep her attendance a secret, so he has no idea who she is. And when Candace learns he is looking for the mystery woman, she decides to kick Emma to the curb and pose as the unknown beauty herself…

Entertainment Value: As the title suggests, A Cinderella Christmas is just that, a holiday themed take on the classic fairy tale. The narrative isn’t slavish to the old story however, so it feels familiar, but not at a beat by beat level, just taking the general premise and adding some new spins at times. Otherwise, this movie follows the usual light, holiday romance formula, blending likable leads, a little humor, and plenty of genre tropes, for a brisk experience. So I have to think fans of the genre will appreciate this, even if it isn’t that original or memorable. I’ve seen a good amount of these holiday romances and I think the familiar elements are part of the appeal to the built in audience, a kind of comfort food slant. The chemistry between the leads is fine, but doesn’t light up the screen. As this is light, casual romance however, there doesn’t need to be that searing level of attraction, I suppose. This feels a lot like a typical romantic comedy, just with the romance turned up and the humor toned down a little. The production values are good, with some nice visuals and polished technical elements. So if you like holiday romances, give this one a shot.

The romance here is a central thread, but some of the movie’s best scenes involve the dynamic between Angie and Candace. The evil stepsister routine shifts to cousins here, but the banter is still there and while Angie is a good girl, the back & forth between characters is fun at times. The nature of the story means that Angie’s romance trickles forward in small doses, so watching Candace’s mishaps and Angie’s attempts at being kind are humorous. Sarah Stouffer plays Candace and she is quite fun, even if she can be a real pain for Angie. I like that she is still evil as the narrative requires, but it in a goofy way, as her schemes never seem to work right. Emma Rigby is good as our Cinderella, but mostly plays off her costars, as she falls into a traditional good girl role here. Which isn’t bad, since that is what the materials asks her to do. The cast also includes Peter Porte, Mindy Cohn, Leland B. Martin, and Lesley-Anne Down.

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