A Gift Wrapped Christmas full movie review - Sassy Pro Shopper Lights Up The Life of A Young Widower & Son At Christmas
I'm a fool for these Lifetime schmaltzy sentimental Christmas movies, and this brand new one is one of the best of the genre. If you're into highbrow TV fare like Downtown Abbey,"A Gift Wrapped Christmas " is not for you.
These heartwarming little tales are meant for you to feel good, and believe you me, this one will do that.These Christmas films are built on predictable formulas. There's usually a one-parent lonely child (adorable Owen, played by Anthony Bolognese).There's the single parent (sad, rich and handsome executive & widower Charlie, played by Travis Milne) who is usually involved with the wrong partner (cold, insufferable business-obsessed, social climber Victoria, played by gorgeous Anna Van Hooft). And of course there's the inspiring heroine, Gwen, a professional shopper,(superbly played by sprightly Meredith Hagner) who "changes everything", by the brightness of her personality. Gwen wins Charlie's son Owen first, and eventually wins the dad too! If If after watching Gwen and Charlie's first few scenes you think it's a spoiler that they end up together, I know you still believe in Santa. Kudos!
Meredith Hagner is simply delightful playing Gwen. Her special charisma as an actress, sassy and bright, may be the reason Woody Allen chose her to play in one of his films. She owns the film from the first scene, playing a lovable and slightly goofy (but very smart) ingenue, like Audrey Hepburn's character in "Breakfast At Tiffany's." The idea of making Gwen a pro-shopper is a brilliant action mover for a Christmas film since Christmas is so tied in with gift giving. It also gives Gwen a professional excuse to access Charles persona. Although at first Charlie is reluctant to open up to her, eventually, Charlie gives in. Gwen is an absolute marvel as a shopper! She does expert client research and buys exactly what everyone wants on Charlie's long list of business gift recipients. She impresses Charlie by gaining the good will (and business) of his business associates and friends. Gwen's very personal caring and attention to both Charlie and Owen, as she goes about buying for them, also wins Charlie's affection. Charlie realizes what a contrast Gwen's optimistic, generous and loving personality is to cold and ambitious girlfriend Victoria. By the time Gwen gets enough courage to tell Charlie "Victoria's not for you",he has already broken up with Victoria because his heart belongs to Gwen. At the end, Charlie tells Gwen poignantly, in Milne's best delivered line: "You've changed everything". Aww!
Travis Milne seems perfectly cast as the reticent and shy Charlie, whom Gwen helps to come out of his shell, partly the result of grief for his deceased wife. Travis/Charlie is the perfect passive medium for the expressive, soulful Gwen/Meredith, good ground to work her magic. Much of the film's success depends between the chemistry between the two main actors, Hagner & Milne, who together make sparks fly. Sweet is also the bond between Charlie and his son. (Milne plays an awesome quiet and caring dad.)Then there's that easy, warm bond between Gwen and Owen. We gobble it all up, hook.line and sinker! We end up caring for all three, and rooting for their eventual union. The whole tale of love romantic and paternal is skillfully told, directed and acted. The supporting roles,like Gwen's affectionate sister and husband;or Charlie's thoughtful secretary; or on the villain side, the cold and calculating Victoria, are all well done. The script is full of details that make the story credible, modern and sweet (but not overly so). The Christmas shopping-related scenery and cinematography is festive and colorful. This is perfect Christmas indulgence film fare, very watchable and enjoyable. "A Gift-Wrapped Christmas" is all you want for Christmas in a Lifetime feel-good movie. Watch it over and over again. I have!