Holiday Engagement (2011) – reviewed by George

From a Story by Charlotte Gamache and Barbara Kymlicka came a Screenplay by Barbara and Jim Fall, which Jim directed.
This is a romance with holiday overtones which add greatly to the texture of the story. Hillary Burns (Bonnie Somerville) has just been dumped by her boyfriend – the guy she expected to spend the rest of her life with. The jerk, Jason King (Chris McKenna), has really messed with her head, so that she really believed he loved her and she over-shared with her family. At the time of the dumping she and Jason are expected at her parents’ home for Thanksgiving in just a few days, and she is hurt and embarrassed and simply does not want to tell her mother Meredith (Shelley Long). She and a girlfriend blunder into a guy in a cell-phone costume waving a sign shaped like an arrow, trying to get customers inside a cell-phone store. His name is David and he is an actor. She asks about his current gig and he says this is it. As she and her friend walk away they realize – he’s an actor – he could pass for Jason – the parental units need never know about the dumping – later on the tale can be that Jason was the dumpee.
So David (Jordan Bridges) is approached and agrees to do it for two tickets to a Mexican resort. He figures he can take the girl he’s currently interested in. And the plot is in place.
They drive down to the parents’ home and David, as Jason, meets Hillary’s father Roy (Sam McMurray) and her sisters Trisha and Joy (Haylie Duff and Carrie Wiita). And of course Meredith. The girls who live closer to home have had love problems, so Meredith is relieved that Hillary is having no such trouble. Jason seems like a really nice guy (because David really is).
Now, given the setup, you already know that Hillary and David will fall in love and that David will be outed as an imposter. Ah, but how that occurs and how we arrive at a resolution is the meat of a very satisfying romance. And though it is not strictly speaking a Christmas movie (it’s a Thanksgiving movie), Meredith is busily planning a Christmas wedding, since Hillary has revealed that she and “Jason” are getting married on December 21. Good story, good cast, good fun. And two of my favorites have cameo roles: Jennifer Elise Cox plays a wild woman in the wedding dress shop, and Sam Pancake plays an old acting buddy of David’s who is now a waiter at the restaurant Meredith and Roy take everyone to the day before Thanksgiving; he could easily give everything away, but obviously he is well-versed in improv, because he changes his story as David keeps embroidering on what has already been said.

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