After being dumped by her boyfriend, a successful tech wiz dating-app creator returns to her hometown for the holiday season, and her dad gets her to sign up for the annual Christmas Cupid anonymous matchmaking event.
Following an unexpected breakup weeks before Christmas, tech wiz Hannah (Drew), creator of the dating app Perfect One, heads home for the holidays, challenged to save her failing business by creating a new romantic dating model. Upon her return she runs into her high-school boyfriend Sam (Matter), whom she had carefully avoided for years, and reluctantly makes a deal with her dad Ted (Gross) to sign up for the town's Christmas Cupid, an anonymous holiday pen-pal service. As the season progresses, Hannah is smitten by each beautifully-written letter she receives and starts to believe that her Christmas pen pal could be her soul mate. It's not until Christmas Eve that everyone must reveal their true identities to their pen pals, even if it means coming face-to-face with the last person they ever expected.
There's a line in the movie where he says he sold an overpriced condo to actor Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon had no idea about this mention until he watched the movies out 2 years after it came out and saw the reference he then addressed it on the Tonight Show See more »
You've got charm
The films seen in my recent Christmas films quest, done to broaden my horizons a little, were variable in quality. Some were surprisingly well done, some were decent/above average, some were watchable but nothing special and some were really not good at all. No masterpieces, the highest rating given so far reviewing them slowly here has been an 8 given to a few, really but there were not many actually that were irredeemably awful as well.
'Christmas Pen Pals' is one of the decent ones. It didn't wow me by all means but considering that the premise didn't leap out at me as amazing and could have been really mundane if done badly, this was a nice surprise and a pleasant diversion as long as one doesn't expect too much. A message gotten throughout this particular quest, though sometimes when a component is done really badly, like no likeable characters, a story that never grabs, poor acting and chemistry and cringe-worthy dialogue, it is not easy at all to overlook or forgive. Luckily, 'Christmas Pen Pals' doesn't suffer too awfully from those problems compared to other films from the quest.
Sure, 'Christmas Pen Pals' has issues. Am another person that found Hannah difficult to warm to at first, her shrill and try-too-hard manner did grate. The dialogue is corn and cheese filled at times and can be quite weak.
Was expecting the film to be pretty predictable, and that was exactly what the story was. Much of it was easily telegraphed early on, granted it has a pretty cliched though relatable premise in the first place and nothing is particularly creative here in the execution of it.
On the other hand, 'Christmas Pen Pals' is very nicely shot with the scenery having a cosy charm. The music is not over-bearing or syrupy and is quite nostalgic. There are enough amusing and sweet moments in the writing, even having a nice and not too preachy message, and the film is hardly without soul. Actually found much of it still very charming and heart-warming, as well as easy to like. The direction didn't in my mind come from somebody who didn't care, the character interaction was not stiff or static and the spirit of Christmas is handled just about right.
Despite not being sure at first, once Hannah calmed down as a character and Sarah Drew relaxed more the characters were engaging and hard to not relate to and the leads' chemistry was sweet without being sappy. The actors all do well, apart from Drew overdoing it at first. Niall Matter is charmingly understated and so easy to endear to, and Michael Gross is entertaining veteran support.
Summing up, decent. 7/10
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