Story: Bert (Ernest Borgnine) loves to entertain people and even made it in show business, starring in films and delighting audiences. But his prime is long behind him and his past haunts him in some ways, as he is estranged from his own family. As he prepares for life after the spotlight, Bert plans to sell his property and move into a retirement home, where he can live out his golden years with his fellow artists and performers. But before that happens, he receives some tragic news, as his daughter has been in an accident and has been hospitalized. That means she can’t look after Bert’s granddaughter Becca, so he has to step up and reconnect with his family. Can he get to know Becca and rebuild bonds with his family, or is too late for Bert to change his life?
Entertainment Value: A Grandpa for Christmas was just about what I expected, a simple and very predictable movie that doesn’t leave much of an impression, but is also easy to watch. The story is fine and tells a passable tale, though it is indeed predictable and a little on the corny side. That shouldn’t be an issue for the likely viewers of this one, as I would think those also interested in Hallmark type films would also be interested in this one. I do think this is lower budget and more rushed than Hallmark’s Christmas movie efforts however, though the cast is solid enough to help distract from the limits of the production. I would classify this as the same type of “comfort” cinema though and to be fair, this was more enjoyable than some Hallmark or Lifetime films I’ve seen. I was never bored with this one either, as the pace is brisk and the tone is light, so it is easy to sit down for this one, even if it doesn’t rise above the harmless, but forgettable level. So if you like corny Christmas movies, you might have some fun with A Grandpa for Christmas.
The sole reason I ended up watching A Grandpa for Christmas was Ernest Borgnine, the legend of the screen that I can never resist an unseen performance from. Of course, I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be the kind of material that would challenge Borgnine as an actor, but I hoped to see a warm, enjoyable effort. And in truth, I just appreciate seeing a new performance from Borgnine, as his resume is so colorful and he adds so much to any movie he’s in. Despite his character being predictable and simple, Borgnine brings that warmth to the role and brings Bert to life with great skill, doing what he can with the material. His presence adds a lot to A Grandpa for Christmas, not only turning in a solid performance, but also being a motivation for folks to check out the picture. The cast also includes Katherine Helmond, Jamie Farr, and Richard Libertini.