All I want for Christmas is you.
A Cookie Cutter Christmas is one of the offerings from The Hallmark Channel as part of its annual “Countdown to Christmas” programming. On the surface it’s innocuous and festive.
When recently widowed dad James (David Haydn-Jones, Dear Santa) arrives in town with his young daughter Lily (Genea Charpentier, Run for Your Life) in tow tongues wag and hearts are set a-fluttering. Our heroine Christie (Erin Krakow, When Calls the Heart) is hardly immune, especially since she’s Lily’s new teacher.
But here’s where the film goes awry. Christie is a teacher in the same school as her lifelong rival, Penny (Miranda Frigon, Primeval: New World), who is also set on landing the new guy. So while we wonder if Christie will make merry with James, we also contend with working things out with Penny in time for Christmas. The problem is one too many threads to follow in this short runtime. The idea of realizing a petty childhood rivalry should be put aside in favor of cultivating a friendship is the plot of its own movie. I’m all for demonstrating Christie’s competitive streak as the flaw she must overcome but when that struggle is centered on a single person, the result is the rivalry threatens to — pardon the pun — rival the main storyline in significance.
And that’s exactly what happens here. Working out things with Penny takes up too much of the story, and as a result suctions energy from the rest of the film. We already need to see Christie bonding with both James and Lily; throwing in a whole other storyline makes this recipe boil over. There are not enough interactions between James and Christie to convince us they’ve fallen for one another. A Cookie Cutter Christmas is a bit of a misstep, sadly. It’ll be on plenty of times over the holidays, but with so many other seasonal offerings go ahead and skip this one.
The technical specs are in the film’s favor. The 1.78:1 aspect ratio fits well for the video transfer, which threatens to demonstrate grain at times but never goes beyond a hint of soft focus. The festive touches are shown in their best light and contain plenty of red and green hues to put you in a holiday mood. The audio is a step above, offering a Dolby 5.1 track where I expected a Dolby 2.0 instead. Sadly, there isn’t a lot for the track to do as not much emphasis is placed on festive singing, though there is kind of an awful attempt at paying homage to a famous scene from Bridesmaids nestled in there. There are no special features.
Treat A Cookie Cutter Christmas like you would a burnt cookie…consume only if there is nothing else in the house.