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The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland

USA 2020
produced by
Jenn Gotzon, Jim E. Chandler, Joel Bunkowske, George D. Escobar, Raymond Chen (executive), Yan Wen Chen Tsinkelis (executive), John Schneider (executive), Alicia Allain (executive), Richard Chandler (executive), Jennie Chandler (executive), Terry Chase Chenowith (executive), Leah Rose Fisher (executive), Isaac Hernandez (executive), Mona Langham (executive), Lynn J. Sayad (executive), Robert Wardlaw (executive), Derrick Warfel (executive) for Idealist-Gozon Film, 2 Actors
directed by Wes Llewellyn
starring Jenn Gotzon, Jim E. Chandler, Corbin Bernsen, Robert Amaya, John Schneider, Natasha Bure, Adele Chandler, Roxzane T. Mims, Henry Cho, Zhen Xi Xian, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Delilah, Beckah Shae, Amy Sutherland, Livi Birch, Benji Russell, Jeff Rose, Mary McCord, Sophia Ma, Justin Peters, Steven Rupe, Bridgette Ridenour, Anthony Hackett, Leah Rose Fisher, Zele Avradopoulos, Carmelo Angel Ruiz, Dick Chandler, Tate Cho, Rachel E. Brunner, Drake Travis, Kurt Yue, Kevin Baskette, Joe Legge, Rich Swingle
written by James M. De Vince, Reuben Evans, Betty Sullivan, Billy Falcon, Bob Sáenz, music by James Covell

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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As kids, Belle (Livi Birch) and Josh (Benji Russell) considered themselves penpals forever, and the highlight of their year was when they met a few days before Christmas at Santaland, an annual Christmas event at Josh's parents farm. But then one year when they were fooling around, Belle fell into the pig sty and became the center of ridicule - which led to Belle making a hasty escape, and the two never met each other again, with Josh not even answering Belle's letters. But what's worse, Belle lost her bracelet with good luck charms in the pig sty. It's 25 years later, and Belle (now played by Jenn Gotzon) is a super model on the decline, who remembers her old bracelet which she had loved very much back when, and she decides to go back to Santaland to go looking for it. She of course also meets Josh (Jim E. Chandler) there, who now runs his parents' farm and also Santaland and is also a pastor and widower. At first their reunion is sort of awkward, but Josh's daughter Adele (Adele Chandler) takes an instant liking into Belle - and thus soon Belle and Josh start liking each other again. And Belle even finds out that Josh didn't stop writing her but her mother intercepted his letters and sent them back. Belle also learns that Santaland is financially on the decline and might close down completely after the season, so she pulls a few favours to do a big charity show for the place - and it seems there's nothing standing in the way of Belle and Josh becoming romantically involved ... when Belle finds out Josh has been lying about never having found her bracelet all along, something she thinks she can never forgive. But all of this is about more than just a bracelet while the bracelet has a history Belle doesn't know about yet ...

 

Now don't expect this film to be very subtle - after all, this is an unapologetic Christmas movie, which is a genre not very big on subtleties. Instead, it pretty much follows the genre formula, which includes many feelgood moments, the undying faith in Christmas miracles, and of course the obligatory happy ending including a saccharine message - and really, as an obvious Christmas movie, this one gets away with it, thanks to a very spirited central performance by Jenn Gotzon, supported by a very solid cast (including Corbin Bernsen as the film's central father figure), and also thanks to the film just wearing its heart on its sleeve, despite all the cheesiness the story actually feels true to a point. Now certainly not for everyone, but one of the most likeable Christmas movies in quite some time.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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