Plot: Holly (Jana Kramer) has returned home to Gulfport, Mississippi to celebrate the holidays with her mother Caroline (Faith Ford). The town will be a little more festive than usual, as a tradition is about to be revived after a five year absence. After a hurricane devastated the area, the town had to put a hold on the popular festival of lights event, but it is now back on the agenda. As Caroline encourages her to get involved with local events, in part to lure her to move back, Holly agrees to volunteer with the light festival. She learns that her ex Mike (Wes Brown) is not only still in town, but is in charge of the event, no less. Will the two be able to coexist and help the town have one of their best festivals ever?
Entertainment Value: This Lifetime holiday romance is predictable and not all that memorable, but delivers on the expectations of the built in audience, so it is hard to be harsh here. The narrative lights up a number of the genre tropes, focused on a woman who returns to her small town and encounters the ex who broke her heart, so no real surprises in this one. The tone is light, but there’s not as much humor as some of these holiday romances have, which I disliked. I prefer a brisker approach with more humor and less romantic push, but I can see why others would want the opposite and that’s what Christmas in Mississippi comes through with. To me, the pace drags a little, but that is likely due to the more grounded tone and lower emphasis on humor, which puts the focus on the romantic elements. I wasn’t bowled over here, though I do think the movie provides most of what Lifetime Christmas movie fans are after, which is the real purpose of these pictures. So I can’t give this a strong thumbs up, but some Lifetime and Hallmark fans will want want to check it out.
The romance here is rather lukewarm, but these holiday romances are more tender than scintillating, so that makes sense. While the heat between the leads isn’t palpable, both are likable and turn in passable performances. Jana Kramer is warm and likable as our main lead and while her effort here isn’t that memorable, she handles the basic needs of the material well. And to be fair, the script doesn’t give her a lot of chances to shine, so the writing shoulders some of the blame for being a little forgettable. She and Wes Brown have decent chemistry, but again never have that spark that makes the romance feel tangible. As I said though, both are competent performers and do what the script asks, so the basics are covered. I was pleased to find a couple of colorful supporting players here however, with personal favorite Barry Bostwick on hand, as well as Home Improvement star Richard Karn. Neither has a large amount of screen time, but both are fun to watch and to me, any movie that has Bostwick is worth a peek, as he is so fun even in mediocre pictures. The cast also includes Faith Ford, Gary Grubbs, Trace Masters, and Davina Reid.
The Disc: This movie was released on DVD as part of Mill Creek Entertainment’s Down Home Christmas collection, with four other Lifetime holiday romances. The transfer is passable, with good colors and contrast, as well as decent sharpness. Not the kind of treatment to write home about, but for a value pack with a low price, the movie looks more than acceptable.
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