There are movies that are like those unwanted gifts you get on Christmas Day. Despite the promise of something enjoyable, you open the gift/movie in question and decide you never want to watch it again. The recent Falling For Christmas is one of those predictable Hallmark movies starring Lindsey Lohan. And Christmas at Mistletoe Farm is different!
The film is directed by Debbie Isitt, best known for the Nativity films and the stage musical based on the first and best film of that holiday franchise. He is a talented children’s director, so there are decent performances from the children in this film, but some of the scripts he wrote were poor in quality. If you’ve seen Nativity Rocks, you’ll probably agree with us, and if you sit down to watch Christmas at Mistletoe Farm, you might share that sentiment.
Still, things are off to a pretty good start in his latest family film. We meet Matt Cunningham (Scott Garnham), a widower of five who discovers he has inherited Mistletoe Farm from his estranged father. Not exactly cut out for country life, this city guy decides to take his kids to a farm for Christmas so he can get the peace and quiet he needs to prepare a client presentation for the agency he works for.
She soon regrets her decision to stay on the farm when she realizes she has no wifi, water, a refrigerator full of rotten eggs, and a farm full of animals to look after, including a piglet with a bladder problem! Since she also has children to look after, her chances of making the presentation on time are slim.
The early scenes of Matt struggling to cope with life on the farm are quite entertaining and there is hope that we could be in for a gentle comedy around farm misadventures and family ties. We have one, but it’s spoiled by another character appearing on stage, a rainbow-sweater-wearing mugger, the Beano, this film’s version of Mr. Poppy from Birth .
We first meet Beano when he wakes up in one of the farm’s barns, startling the scout kids who have no idea of his existence. They find out he’s the foreman of the farm and are quickly drawn in by his goofy charm, but Matty isn’t too happy with the grown man who lured him into his family.
You may also be dissatisfied, because Beano has taken all the charm out of the film’s potential and turned it into a farce. He is irritating and disturbing, which is not a complaint against the actor who plays him, Scott Page, but rather a criticism of Isitt’s writing, as he allows his nonsensical behavior to overshadow the rest of the film!
Making Of The Film
Beano is not the only character we encounter during the making of the film. We also get to know the people in the village when Beano takes Matt and the kids to the local pub where everyone is gathered. These locals include a butcher, a baker and (as you’d expect) a candlestick maker, as well as characters named after dwarfs from Snow White for some reason, including grumpy-looking fellows who are all called… well, you don’t need me to tell you that!
All of these characters are fairly one-dimensional, but they’re likable enough, which is disappointing that it’s Beano and not these other locals who get the most screen time.
If you can make it through the movie without hitting the mute button, you’ll be treated to scenes involving a pair of land developers who want to buy the farm.
Their introduction is actually quite comical as they are just as worried about being on the farm as Matt. There are a few funny moments as you watch them deal with farm odors and various other hazards, but it’s not comedy as they don’t stick around for very long.
They can laugh at Beano’s silly games and fall in love with the farm’s pigs, goats, horses and other animals. So whether you need to entertain your kids while they’re wrapping their presents or making Christmas dinner, Christmas at Mistletoe Farm isn’t entirely disposable.
But if you sit down to watch this lame holiday effort, you’ll probably wish you could watch one of the better holiday movies currently airing instead. You’ll probably fall for weak attempts at humor, an unconvincing romantic plot that seems thrown in at the last minute, and a final plot that might make you shake your head in disbelief.
When the local villagers perform their big musical number at the end, you can also pick up the remote control. Instead of singing a Christmas carol, they sing YMCA, which I think is supposed to be “funny” because it’s a village folk song sung by local villagers!
It really is the movie equivalent of a Christmas brussels. You’ll probably want to get rid of yourself as soon as possible after spawning. With cheap production values, a (mostly) predictable plotline, and at least one insufferable character, Christmas On Mistletoe Farm is only for the most unassuming; those people who consider slapping scenes of people falling on animal dung to be the height of comedy. For anyone, this is definitely something to avoid.