Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square (2020 Netflix)
Synopsis (via Netflix)
An embittered “Scrooge” of a woman plans to sell her small town, regardless of the consequences to the people who live there.
The starts with a good old fashion overture, giving me time to settle into the musical. TV movie musicals were popular in the 1960s, and I’m hoping this is the resurgence! Next, we see the titular time square, and Dolly Parton plays a Christmas angel/panhandler narrator. The townspeople sing about what Christmas on the Square is about with a sound stage, fantastic choreography, and musical theater comedy sensibilities. It is very fun.
We meet Margeline, the salon owner, Pastor Christian and his wife Jenna (who are hoping to have a baby), and general store owner/former boyfriend of Regina’s, Carl Pullam.
Regina Fuller (Christine Baranski) drives through the town and disapprovingly looks around. She arrives with her assistant, Felicity, to evict the business owners on the square. Regina used to live in the town and inherited it from her father. She is running away from her memories.
Pastor Christian and his wife Jenna sing a love duet while passing out “Resist Regina” flyers. Then the dance in a gazebo. Which is mandatory in musicals, right? They kiss after the sweet song ends.
Regina ignores a call from the doctor (She has a dark spot on a cat scan and could have a brain tumor.) In her mansion, and screams from the balcony at Margeline for being late to do her hair. Margeline gives Regina a makeover while singing about their friendship and how Regina has become the queen of mean. (Thought that was Regina George.)
Carl is not interested in selling his store when Regina serves him an eviction notice. He sings about the memories of each item in his store. He asks her what happened to the Regina he used to know. Carl loved her, and she broke his heart.
Angel Dolly (Not her first time playing an angel in a TV movie, See Unlikely Angel) shows up and signs while floating on a cloud. Regina is sure that she is hallucinating because of her tumor. She drives into town frantically to get away from Angel Dolly.
The town folk sing “Wicked Witch of the Middle.” A funny group number. Regina interrupts the song and tells everyone that they need to be out by Christmas Eve. The town comes together and sings an inspirational song in church, which is a fitting setting.
Regina goes to a bar with a precocious child bartender named Violet. Violet and Regina bond over losing their mothers at a young age and agree that life is not a fairy tale. They sing about it with some impressive harmonies. Regina learns that Violet’s mother had to drive to get medication and died in a car accident because she closed the town pharmacy. Regina starts to think she could be the Wicked Witch of the Middle.
Felicity turns out to be an Angel in training or Angel Intern. Dolly shows up again for an angel training montage and song.
Through a flashback we see, Regina at her high school prom. It is a 70’s extravaganza. Regina sees Carl with another girl looking at a ring. Regina acts out, sleeping with another man and getting pregnant. Regina had the baby and up it up to adoption and misses her chance to be with Carl.
Regina comes out of her new cat scan with a sense of clarity. As she is leaving the hospital, Regina sees Violet and Mack. Violet was in a car accident. Regina asks the angel for help and has a surgeon flown in from a neighboring town. Mack sings a father’s prayer for his daughter.
Dolly sings a song about angels with a choir. She does her dolly magic and causes Violet to wake up in the hospital and Jenna to become pregnant.
Regina lights her father’s lantern and finds a family bible inside. It tells what happened to the baby that was put up for adoption. Pastor Christian is Regina’s son. She tells him, and Pastor Christain tells his congregation in his Christmas Eve service. Regina is welcome by everyone and has changed her ways. Regina asks for forgiveness. She decides not to sell the town. Everyone rejoices.
Christmas is reprise happens. The characters stories are wrapped up and everyone is happy. Dolly and Felicity watch from the church steeple They encourage us all to light your light.
Minority Report: Pastor Christian, Margeline, Mack, Violet, Bessie, Uncle Freddie, townpeople,
Is this the best musical movie? No, but it is a bright spot in a lame 2020 TV movie line up. Mostly thanks to Dolly’s songwriting and a fantastic cast.
🎄🎄🎄🎄 (4 Christmas Trees)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)
*Photo Credit: © 2020 Netflix
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