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Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Oh Christmas Tree!' DVD: Hallmark Channel Hoke for the Holidays

Product Details
The delightful and charming 2013 movie "Oh Christmas Tree!," which Monarch Home Entertainment recently released on DVD, emits such a strong pine-scented vibe of a Hallmark Channel holiday movie that learning that this film began life on that network as "Fir Crazy" is not surprising fir sure.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; these films do not approach the quality of timeless holiday classics, such as "Its a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street," but are equally enjoyable. Nothing beats a November or December Sunday morning marathon of Hallmark Channel holiday fare while eating croissants and drinking cocoa with marshmallows and peppermint sticks.

Further, watching this amusing fluff far beats listening to little Jennifer pound out chopsticks on the piano or Justin providing a mangled recap of the original "Star Wars" film that is as long as the movie.

(On a related note, your reviewer is eagerly anticipating exercising the right to an exception regarding a general household prohibition against "Saved by the Bell" to watch a "very special" two-parter being referred to as a "very Zachy Christmas.")

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the Hallmark promo. for "Tree" shows how the film provides great holiday-themed escapist fun.

In true Hallmark style, "Tree" stars "Chuck's" Sarah Lancaster as yuppie Elsie MacReynolds and still-dreamy Eric Johnson of "Smallville" and "Flash Gordon" as Darren. Manhattanite Elsie predictably is denied a promotion and actually fired from her corporate executive position just as her upstate farm folk parents are preparing for their annual six-week trek to the big apple to sell Christmas trees in their spruced up (it had to be written) lot outside a department store.

It is equally predictable that Elsie learns that resistance is futile regarding being called into service at the lot. It is less predictable that this does not cause intense drama.

Darren is a kind-hearted elementary school teacher who frequents the lot after becoming enamored with Elsie. The predictability continues with the initial sense that he is barking up the wrong tree leading to a sweet courtship that does not include any actual or implied sexual activity.

Johnson does a nice job in the role and shows that he makes a terrific Santa aside from being a guy in whose lap most women and a lesser population of men would enjoy sitting.

Gary Dixon, who is the new manger of the department store where the lot is located, fills the role of villain who has a change of heart near the end of the film. A predictably unpleasant first meeting with Elsie and subsequent nuisances associated with the lot prompt a seemingly successful campaign to shut down this literal mom-and-pop business.

The fact that things get gray but never turn black is part of the appeal of this escapist fun. Further, Lancaster does a terrific job showing that Elsie's heart merely slowly thaws. There is no dramatic Grinch-style event that transforms her from a typical jaded New York with a reasonably happy childhood into a Pollyanna at the snap of a finger.

"Tree" additionally has genuinely amusing moments. Lancaster does good schtick with the trees, and scenes regarding the differences between the trees provide good humor.

The "miracle" related to all this is that "Tree" is an above-average example of the genre described above. You will laugh, probably will not cry, and will have a warm feeling (regardless of whether you drink cocoa) at the end of the film. You maple even pine for another viewing next year.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Tree" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.