It’s been a pretty good year for Christmas movies. Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion is one of the stronger Lifetime offerings this season and feels like the kind of film that would have played well in theaters…back when that was the norm.
As with any Christmas romance movie, it’s about coming up with a remotely unique way to bring a new couple together. For this one, writer Michael H. Daniels and writer/director Jake Helgren come up with a clever way to make the couple’s love story compelling.
Amy Kessler (Michelle Argyris) is an event designer tired of being overlooked and unappreciated by her supervisor. After he nabs a prestigious gig Amy worked on tirelessly for himself, Amy quits and decides to take the job herself.
With the help of her BFF co-worker Kayleigh (Catherine Haena Kim), Amy plays a round of the White Elephant game and steals her stolen gig back. Good thing the potential employer, pop star Tiffanie Christmas (American Idol alumni Asia’h Epperson), loves Amy’s ideas and is all too happy to have her plan her family’s reunion.
But the life of a busy pop star doesn’t always allow for freedom to oversee this kind of event so Tiffanie has her cousin, Calvin (Alonzo B. Slater), handle the intricacies of setting up the Christmas Family Reunion.
Initially, Amy isn’t sure what to make of Calvin’s confident demeanor before quickly realizes he’s hardly the most challenging member of the Christmas family.
That would be his mother, Eve (Vanessa Williams), and Tiffanie’s mother, Mona (Wendy Raquel Robinson), who both want to host the reunion at their homes.
Williams and Robinson play off each other well as constantly passively aggressive squabbling sister-in-laws. It’s up to Amy to be the nonbiased voice to choose the ideal setting for this reunion.
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Making a selection proves harder since each of the potential locations are gorgeous. It was refreshing to see the black families having the breathtaking homes instead of the usual cramped, but homey spots that are more common.
While it would have been easy to set up some nasty antagonist dynamic with the family matriarchs, Daniels and Helgren decide to go the sweeter route. Amy instantly ingratiates herself with the family who just as warmly welcome her into the fold by having her take part in the various traditions.
These are some of the strongest aspects of the film as it offers more development of the supporting characters instead of devoting the entire film to bringing Calvin and Amy together.
And after spending a little time together, Calvin and Amy start getting some warm and fuzzy feelings and it’s not just from Mona’s hot chocolate. This setup allows the mutual attraction to feel more organic.
Why wouldn’t Calvin be into the attractive designer who takes such an immediate interest in his family? Likewise, Calvin is a fellow creative, charming and not shy about his interest making for an ideal catch for Amy.
Slater and Argyris have good chemistry, which hasn’t been the case with all of this season’s romance offerings. They sell their characters’ connection well and it doesn’t take much to root for Calvin and Amy to start confessing their true feelings for each other.
The only hiccup is the obligatory movie miscommunication moment. This one felt forced and a little silly. Fortunately, Helgren doesn’t waste too much time on it and quickly resumes the feel good flow of the film.
Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion is a nice family-focused romance movie that doesn’t sacrifice the strong family dynamic for the sake of a relationship everyone watching knows is inevitable. Argyris and Slater’s chemistry more than makes that worth the wait.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Lifetime
Check out Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion on Amazon Prime now.
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