It’s a mini-movie marathon tonight, December 8, featuring Drew Lachey in the Christmas romantic comedy, Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas on the UP Network at 7:00, 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. While this made-for-TV movie isn’t perfect, it has its moments and is somewhat surprising.
The 98 Degrees star and brother of Nick Lachey, Drew plays a shallower version of himself as Dax, a jaded rock star who lost his passion for writing music long ago and is currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons. In order to help repair his image, manager Jason (Matt Ward), concocts a contest where one lucky fan will receive a visit from the rock star. It turns out that the winner of the contest is Kelly Hardling (MacKenzie Porter), a book jacket writer who has had recent trouble finding work and had to move back home with her mother Lynne (Ellie Harvie) and the Rev. Harding (Peter Lacroix). For what appears to be an unclear reason, Kelly’s brother Tim (Evan Bird) entered his sister for the contest but it is clear that she was a former fan of the singer when she was in high school.
The “fish out of water” comedy shows Dax living with the “prize-winning” family for the week of Christmas, something that he makes clear that he is not thrilled with. Spoiler alert: they fall in love. Lachey and Porter have a surprising chemistry and banter well with each other, but the one to watch is Oliva Chen as Dax’s “I’m totally with you” girlfriend. There is nothing warm about this shallow being. The rest of the cast is okay, but they are not the weakness of this film – it’s the storytelling.
The squeaky clean comedy is loosely faith-based. While it isn’t necessary for a Christian television station to present an overly deep-meaning film, this one could have been a bit stronger. Ultimately Dax learns to not “give up on himself” instead of relying on someone greater than himself. As with many TV romantic comedies, the writers tend to think that “cute” is the same as “funny.” It’s not. For an example, the fact that mom likes to take a lot of photos is cute – not funny. The writing also tip toes around a few plot holes hoping that nobody will notice.
With that said, the film should be praised for its unconventional approach of keeping the film completely family-friendly and still be able to address issues such as drinking and pre-marital sex. While the pastor’s family is almost portrayed as a “perfect” family, there are a few attempts to show that this is not so. The father is fairly judgmental and Kelly admits that she has her faults as well. The story gets better as the movie goes on as well.
So “Who's” is not “It’s a Wonderful Life” but you do a lot worse.