We open up on a small town during the holiday season, we see people happily shopping and walking the well-decorated streets. When we first meet Abby (Kat Graham), she is hard at work taking holiday portraits of families in front of a Christmas backdrop. Abby begins to take down her equipment when a young man comes in and sits down in front of the backdrop. At first, Abby doesn’t notice who is sitting in the chair then realizes that the young man is her best friend Josh (Quincy Brown) back from traversing around the world working on his travel blog. As they catch up, Abby’s boss, Mr. Singh (Ali Hassan) shows up, informing Abby that she will start working at Santa’s workshop tomorrow as he hands her an elf uniform. Mr. Singh then gives a box of decorations to Josh and tells him to take it down to his car.
We cut to Abby’s sister’s house, where the whole extended family of Abby’s is gathering for the annual holiday picture. Abby is greeted by her niece, Corinne (Jaeda Owens) and her sister, Sarah (Genelle Williams) who hands Abby eggnog with ‘a little something extra.’ They go into the living room where Abby’s parents (Laura de Carteret, Kevin Hanchard) are hanging ornaments on the tree. Abby goes with her sister to decorate the mantle, and we see the family photos from past holidays. Abby’s dad and mom are obvious in their opinion that Abby could do better than being a department store photographer, saying taking pictures is a great hobby but not a profession. Abby retreats into the kitchen, where her grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) is making chili. They discuss his new living situation, having sold the house and moved into a retirement home. Josh enters the house and is greeted warmly by Abby’s grandfather, and they head into the living room to take the family picture. As Josh gets a camera ready, he informs Abby’s family that he is here to stay, no more traveling for him. Josh takes the family photo, and it is apparent that this is a family who loves each other. Later, Abby walks into the den where her grandfather has a gift for her. They talk about how tough the first Christmas without Abby’s grandmother. The grandfather explains that when he was packing up to move, he found his wife’s Advent wooden calendar, something that Abby’s grandmother wants her to have. The calendar is in the shape of a house and is European with little doors for each day leading up to Christmas. As Abby’s grandfather winds the calendar in the back. It’s a calendar that is going to change Abby’s life, no Christmas will ever be the same for Abby with this gift.
Netflix gives us one of their many holiday films in a sweet but incredibly sappy movie, ‘The Holiday Calendar.’ The plot is pretty formulaic; a woman is unhappy in her job, she wants to own a photography studio and take more than just portraits of families. She has a best friend, but unknown to her, he has come back into town because he is secretly in love with her. The advent calendar starts to work its magic as each day a new door is opened, and a small figurine predicts what will happen to Abby on that day. Along the way, Abby meets the man of her dreams, Ty (Ethan Peck), a doctor who seems perfect in every way. As Abby gets more and more involved with Ty, she begins ignoring her family and especially Josh. Of course, along the way, Abby will learn what is most important to her in this holiday season.
I have always liked Kat Graham, she was my favorite actress in ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ but she is let down by a lazy script and the horrible dialogue. She tries very hard to give the movie some heart and life but just can’t overcome the material. The film takes some of the worst elements of a cheesy holiday film and combines them into a movie that fails in just about every category.
Netflix should leave this type of movie to the Hallmark Channel who knows how to give the audience what they want, and this film doesn’t come close to providing any of that warm, holiday feeling that you want. I feel bad putting down a holiday movie, but I can’t believe anybody would want to see this cliched mess of a film that is predictable and stale. Don’t let this holiday dribble bring your Christmas spirit down.
My Rating: Cable
Mike’s rating system from best to worst:
1). I Would Pay to See it Again
2). Full Price
3). Bargain Matinee
5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again