Lifetime's 'Too Close for Christmas' Review: Chad Michael Murray and Jessica Lowndes' romance is a gush of warmth
Spoilers for 'Too Close for Christmas'
Something about 'Too Close for Christmas' doesn't seem right. Perhaps it's watching the not so sweet Adrianna Tate Duncan from '90210' reluctantly brewing a romance with none other than 'One Tree Hill' star Lucas Scott. Only here, Adrianna is super sweet and wholesome, and Lucas is more of a Nathan. In Lifetime's latest Holiday romance titled 'Too Close for Christmas', Jessica Lowndes plays the darling Hayley, who can't stop festering about a promotion on the cards. And Chad Michael Murray plays the smooth and suave Paul, giving Hayley a really, really hard time not falling head over heels in love for him. But you know what they say about the Holidays and the cheesy romances that come with it; there's no escaping the feelings and the same goes for Hayley, not just the viewers.
The plot of the 88-minute long film sees Hayley, who accepts an invitation to spend Christmas with her sister’s new in-laws. Things obviously don't go according to plan as her brother in law Paul (Murray) unexpectedly shows up. The biggest problem Hayley has with Paul is a grudge she harbors against him for ending her last relationship, but she reluctantly spends time with the guy and slowly realizes she may have been too quick a judge on him.
Murray and Lowndes already have that high school teen drama evolved into romantic-motive-cheese-fest going for them, so fitting into the roles isn't that difficult for the two actors either. There's not much to say about the writing with Nicole Baxter filling up the gap scenes with a lot of uncomfortable laughter from the leads, and at times incessant sighing and smiling from the secondary characters. But perhaps that only makes things more realistic because people do get wrapped in uncomfortable conversations, be it with past exes or their parents, and not always have the right, catchy thing for comebacks.
The crisis in the drama is in the form of Hayley constantly festering over a co-promotion at her job, and Paul teaching her to reuse to sell herself short. As a fancy Manhattan event planner who only likes "half greens and half proteins" on her plate for meals and is totally blown by how much she enjoys the local diner's ribs, Hayley is easy to get along with and everybody else can't top touting her. She even plans the ticket sales for the town gala after Paul ushers her into helping the planning committee, thus making a segue for a lot of epiphanies that inevitably lead her to choose Paul as her next beau. Hayley in turn gets Paul to open up more and cave into turning his non-emotional Christmas vibe into a Holiday food tradition-loving one.
Things come around as Paul learns to be a person Hayley can lean on after their initial brush, and he eventually apologizes too, teaching Hayley she always deserves better - be it her job, or relationships. Director Ernie Barbarash does a brilliant job at pulling all that works in favour of a Christmas movie into play. The background score is a little too comedic, giving more of a Tom & Jerry cartoon than a Christmas movie vibe. But it's the red and the green and the snow and lights all around that just makes imagining the smell of roasted hazelnuts easier and for that everything coming together perfectly is to commend.
The thing about lighthearted holiday romances is that you cannot think too much if you'd like to enjoy it. So of course, 'Too Close for Christmas' is best with a cup of hot chocolate, your favorite blanket, snuggling in the wintery coziness and warmth of Christmas, experienced best with family and close friends.
'Too Close for Christmas' premiered on Friday, December 4 at 8 pm only on Lifetime.