Christmas Inheritance is another holiday romance film that’s easy to connect the dots on how it’ll play out. But, the same can largely be said about most action or sports movies too. While it doesn’t stray from the formula, this is a better than average Christmas film thanks to strong performances and overall charming presentation.
Ellen (Eliza Taylor, The 100) has been living the reckless party girl heiress lifestyle for a while. She’s ready to grow up and prove to her father (Neil Crone) that she’s ready to take over the family business after inadvertently causing another salacious headline.
To make good, Ellen must deliver a letter to her father’s business partner Uncle Zeke (Anthony Sherwood) in continuing a tradition they established at the start of the company. But for the fast-partying Ellen, the laid-back Snow Falls is a far cry from her normal scene. With only $100 to her name and an edict from her father not to reveal her real identity, Ellen gets a reminder on the true spirit of Christmas.
Naturally, she gets some help along the way with the single cabbie/lodge manager Jake (Jake Lacy, Their Finest) and his baker aunt Debbie (Andie MacDowell).
Screenwriter Dinah Eng doesn’t revolutionize the romantic comedy genre, but her script also doesn’t play out ridiculously dumbed down either. Eng does go to great lengths to make Jake a little too perfect though she creatively avoids clichés with handling Ellen’s fiancé, Gray (Michael Xavier). The characters behave realistically, which allows the tension and eventual miscommunication scene play out far less contrived than the usual romantic comedy.
Director Ernie Barbarash likewise stays safely within the lines of a Christmas romance film. There’s some funny moments, some sweet scenes and even some impossibly romantic gestures. Snow Falls is supposed to be an economically strapped town, but its bustling downtown district has all the amenities you’d expect in a major city including an electronic store with high-end Apple products. With all Christmas romance films, you’ll need to go along with some of the more convenient aspects of the plot. That’s a bit easier thanks to the terrific performances.
Taylor makes Ellen a very likable lead and foreshadows the desire to be more mature so her evolution through the movie isn’t so jarring. Lacy has found a solid career niche as the super nice guy who just wants to settle down with a sweet girl he can take home to his mother.
Taylor and Lacy have an undeniable chemistry that’s further aided by Xavier’s ability to play a jerk so convincingly you’re rooting for Ellen to end her engagement. MacDowell has gracefully transitioned into supporting role status and she makes for a welcome presence even in small doses.
The cast is also welcomingly diverse, which is still not a given for Christmas films from Hallmark. That marks another benefit of Netflix getting into the original holiday movie market.
Christmas Inheritance is a nice holiday movie surprise that benefits from great performances and an uplifting message about friends, family and giving.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix