Okay…I’m cheating a little but its the holidays and I really wanted to wrap up Netflix A-Z and get holiday movies in so I put in this Hallmark movie called Once Upon a Holiday! I’ve been watching a lot of these Hallmark/TV movies and they have just been a pretty enjoyable feel-good experience. The point of these movies are to be heartwarming so as long as it does that, I think I’m pretty cool with it, especially since its the end of the year and all I really want is to relax in all the preparation and craziness.
Let’s check it out!
Once Upon a Holiday (2015)
Director: James Head
Cast: Briana Evigan, Paul Campbell, Greg Evigan, Tony Alcantar, Jay Brazeau, Beverley Elliott, Casey Manderson, Jacqueline Samuda, Tara Wilson
When a princess escapes her entourage to explore New York over Christmas, she meets a young man who shows the beautiful stranger his side of the city.-IMDB
Once Upon A Holiday is a fun little Hallmark movie based similarly to Roman Holiday. Along with its familiar modern day revamp, we also have some familiar faces. The first would be our princess in disguise played by Briana Evigan who is in two Step Up movies. Next would be her real life father who plays as her uncle in this one who had a long filmography with some notable titles. Tara Wilson maybe ring a bell as well as Jay Brazeau and definitely Beverley Elliott who plays Granny on TV series Once Upon a Time. Roman Holiday is a classic lead by some great talents and memorable characters. It would be unfair to hope that a modern day revamp could possibly live up to even Audrey Hepburn’s performance alone, however, Once Upon a Holiday has a rather heartwarming take to this romance drama with a lot of festive moments set in the bustling New York City.
Roman Holiday is a high bar to aim for but the performances here are nothing short of fun. In fact, I’d go straight to say that the performances are what brings a lot of charm to Once Upon a Holiday. Throwing the physical attractions aside, Once Upon a Holiday takes on a more chemistry that grows between Briana Evigan’s Princess Katarina (aka Katie) and real estate agent turned renovation business owner, Jack. Briana Evigan brings an innocence and naivety to Katie’s character, very much like a princess sheltered from the world would. While bad things do happen to her and we as the more street saavy audience knows even more than she does, its also that characteristic that makes her more open-minded to accept the people she meets while still trying to dodge cleverly the familiar security detail tracking her down.
On the other hand, Paul Campbell does a great job at being Jack. He is quite the introvert but while being mesmerized and confused by this girl that appears in front of him, seemingly oblivious to everything around her and just learning about something as simple as eating hot dogs, he also reaches out to try and help her. Jack is a good-hearted man who has been tainted by love. There’s something incredibly genuine about Paul Campbell’s role as Jack that makes him believable.
Its not to mention that Paul Campbell and Briana Evigan emit such attractive chemistry between them and the script brings out well a lot of their feelings and thoughts to help us connect to them on a more personal level. Not many can relate to a princess but we can relate to wanting to be in control of our own life and having the power to make our decisions and choices. On the other hand, we can also love the feeling of family and simplicity. Sure, its a little far-fetched in a story to have a love like this one in just a few days time but that is the power of movies and even the romantic in me who doesn’t quite buy the love at first sight thing can fall for.
Perhaps what makes Once Upon a Holiday a lot more fun is its colorful supporting characters. Jay Brazeau and Beverley Elliott play an ex-magician, Harry that owns a magic store and his ex-assistant, Dixie. Along with them is a scene where they join into a Santa Claus party. On the other hand, there is also Jack’s sister Emily played by Tara Wilson who is charming to watch in a loving and supportive way. By her side is Emily’s small-time reporter Ross, who seems quite stupid and ridiculous as he hopes to find his big break into the big leagues of reporting and turns out to be, very predictably, the guy who ends up following the story of the missing princess and goes on his own wild goose chase.
To be honest, its hard to critique a lot on these heartwarming movies. I’ve said it frequently in the last few reviews. There’s something touching and heartwarming and feel good about them that its okay to accept them for exactly what they are. As predictable and formulaic or even ambitious as they are, these movies are harmless and fun. Not everything is going to be Oscars standards but at least these movies are far far away from being horrible. Perhaps, its the holiday that makes me less cranky about these movies or I’m just a big softie (as Jay says, which I definitely am). Once Upon a Holiday might not be perfect (and I’m aware of that and acknowledge it), but the performances themselves made me love the characters probably far more than I probably should admit. I’ve always been honest about liking movies that a lot of other people would criticize heavily, why stop being myself now, right? 😉