Top critical review
Kevin gets it all wrong... again
April 28, 2019
I take it the first movie did well enough to warrant a sequel of sorts. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa may not have Allie Shaw and Ryan the doctor as leads, but their supporting cast is back, as is Allie's temperamental fire-engine-red truck, as is the wishing snow globe at Kringle Kitchen.
This one's about Lisa Palmer (Jill Wagner) who, with her best friend and business partner, Oliver (Andrew Francis), drifts all over Boston redesigning and staging stores. On a whim, Lisa decides to go back to her hometown of Evergreen, Vermont for the holidays. She hadn't been there since she was seven when her family moved away. But she's never forgotten Evergreen and that one store she loved above all others, Daisy's Country Store.
Some plot spoilers.
She arrives in time for the 49th annual Evergreen Christmas Festival - Hallmark wouldn't have it otherwise. Sadly, Daisy's Country Store closed a little over a year ago with Daisy's passing. In fact, the mayor is wanting to sell it fast, before the bank repossesses it and replaces it with a chain store or a fast food joint or a parking lot.
See Lisa Palmer come to the rescue. She offers the mayor her staging expertise because if the store looks good, then potential buyers are more tempted. Now, she only requires a contractor to work with. She's directed to Kevin Miller (Mark Deklin), a fella she's already had numerous run-ins with on her first day in town. Kevin's only here for a week to hang with his dad, but he's willing to help. Hallmark wouldn't have it otherwise.
So, 3 - maybe 3.5 - out of 5 stars for this sequel that doesn't sustain the heart and sparkle of the original. It's partly because Ashley Williams isn't front and center, although, don't fret, she does drop in for what amounts to a glorified cameo. I dunno, I just really liked Ashley's liveliness in the first one. And, for whatever reason, I wasn't feeling the chemistry between Jill Wagner, who does her best with a stale script, and Mark Deklin. There were definitely some cringy antics, like the tired, old hat of the two leads leaning in for a kiss only to be interrupted. This happens three times! My eyes were rolling so much, one of them fell out. I also became judgy of Kevin whose hobby must be jumping to conclusions.
There's mystery attached to a 25-year-old letter to Santa and an old key that no one seems to know what it opens. There's a kid in the movie who makes it his quest to find the lock the key goes into. And, in case we forget his mission, every time we see the kid thereafter, he's holding on to the key like a vestigial appendage. Kid, put the key down sometime.
I don't go out of my way to kick children to the curb, but how did this kid get on the set? He is so awkward with his lines.
Holly Robinson Peete reprises her role of Michelle, and her storyline is expanded; boring, but expanded.
As a continuity buff, I was happy to see Ashley Williams pop up. I also appreciated the mention of Ryan, but was salty that his young daughter, Zoe, wasn't mentioned. Jaeda Lily Miller was so good as Zoe. And I'm glad the wish-granting snow globe didn't get swept under a rug; it was so instrumental in the first movie.
I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the original. It's even more sanitized storytelling. It's too obvious, too on the nose. The sappy vibe is overwhelming. Too, there's the underwritten father-son relationship that undermines what is supposed to be an emotional reveal at the end.
I would've liked to have seen the maple syrup sugar shack.