If you’re looking for a quick dose of the Christmas spirit, The Holiday Calendar is the movie for you.
Don’t get me wrong, you won’t see this movie up for any Academy Awards this February. It’s so generic, in fact, that I’m not even sure where it takes place. Everyone is abnormally beautiful and the townspeople are aggressively cheerful.
But even if it follows the paint-by-numbers Hallmark holiday movie formula, The Holiday Calendar delivers on what you ask of it. It’s grilled cheese for the soul — a quick, simple, familiar recipe.
The story begins simply enough. Abby (Kat Graham) is given her late grandmother’s antique Advent calendar, thinking it’s just an endearing gift. But something spooky starts happening when the calendar seems to be giving her gifts that predict the future.
Among the mayhem of a girl who doesn’t believe in magic being confronted by it, there is a meddling but loving grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) and goofy best friend, Josh (Quincy Brown).
Abby and Josh have almost effortless chemistry. It doesn’t feel so much like acting as it does like two real best friends we all (secretly) hope will end up together.
But then Ty, the competing love interest, comes in and is the most generic man in the world. I loved hating this man. There is no evidence that Abby even likes him — his main purpose is to stir jealousy in an unnecessary love triangle. He’s good-looking in the most conventional and least attractive way. Worst of all, he doesn’t believe in Christmas miracles. (Come on Abby, you know better!)
Picture-perfect snowfall, a date in a horse-drawn carriage and the pettiest arguments you’ve ever heard are all present. This is a Christmas movie, after all — there are certain expectations that need to be lived up to. But the two main characters are adorable and there is just enough mystery and magic to keep the plot engaging, if not very memorable.
What makes this movie worth watching, like any good holiday movie, is the sprinkling of seasonal magic that comes in at just the right moments. In The Holiday Calendar, Abby has decided to reject the holiday spirit, which makes her an especially appealing target of Christmas charm.
Magical forces like Abby’s calendar remind us there really might be some magic at work, even if the characters aren’t quite convinced to believe in it. A good Christmas movie should remind you of the excitement of the holiday you felt when you were a kid and the true belief that came with it.
I won’t hide that I’m a sucker for cheesy movies. There’s a reason Netflix predicted this movie was a 98 percent match for me. It’s no While You Were Sleeping or The Preacher’s Wife, but it wanted to be a cheesy holiday romance and it hit the ball out of the park. Maybe all these Christmas movies are the same, but you can bet I’ll watch them every year. And this one just made it onto the list.