Movie Review: '12 Gifts of Christmas' (2015)

By and large, Hallmark Channel’s movies are known for their adorable sense of innocence and whimsical fun, and in the “12 Gifts of Christmas,” those themes are exquisitely brought to life. This smile-inducing installment in the ever-popular “Countdown to Christmas” franchise is a winner.

The heartwarming storyline centers on Anna, a struggling artist (Katrina Law) who decides to turn her other talent (personal shopping), into a side business over the holidays. This puts her back in the orbit of Marc (Aaron O’Connell) a workaholic she briefly meets at a bakery. Due to his overwhelming work schedule, he hires her to pick out Christmas gifts for his family, friends, and employees.

From there, Anna and Marc's differing life philosophies and temperments generate the sparks for a sound romance. Each of them helps the other realize some important life goals. All the while learning they share more in common than they initially thought. As a result, the pairing is very well-matched.

Their romance is not rushed or brought on by a love-at-first-sight explosion. It has legs to it, and the charming conflicts that arise between them are naturally cultivated and resolved.

Because of this, the push and pull of "will they, won’t they" is palatable without ever feeling contrived. Anna and Marc’s coupling never comes across as a done deal, which adds some much-needed tension to the story. Just when you think they might be headed in different directions; kismet (or the machinations of a Hallmark movie) believably bring the pair back together.

To its credit, “12 Gifts of Christmas” also incorporates a nice dose of alternative storylines that help build up the love story. Both character’s lives are well-explored with their families taking center stage.

It is here their differing compatible strengths are demonstrated. Anna helps Marc on a personal level by working to have him reconnect with his family, while he aids in her realizing her professional potential. It is in these regards that they become each other’s partners.

Anna’s close relationship with her sister and tight bond with her nieces play a pivotal role in her life as they support her blossoming relationship. Marc's family includes his mom played by screen veteran Donna Mills, who gets to show off her sweet side in the role. When it comes to Marc's family, they fall for Anna just as much as he does.

It is the inclusion of this much-needed unique facet that helps the movie stand out among its peers. Exponentially adding to the movie’s appeal is that Anna is a worthy heroine and Marc is an equally viable love interest. That is a rare combo for romantic comedies, in general.

Katrina Law is beyond delightful as the vivacious Anna, showing off an impressive range when compared to her terrifically intense performance as the icy Nyssa on “Arrow.” The two characters could not be any more different, and she is equally adept at portraying both.

Law also sparks significant screen chemistry with co-star Aaron O’Connell, who is more than believable as the thoughtful ad man. Playing a good guy requires an underrated talent and O'Connell possesses it. He flawlessly portrays Marc's good nature, while also exuding his business side with debonaire distinction.

This is one Hallmark movie; one would not mind seeing a sequel to because it is sad to watch come to an end. A cute story and endearing performances more than make "12 Gifts of Christmas" a Hallmark movie worth unwrapping. Rating: 9/10

[Featured Image by Hallmark Crown Media]