Christmas By Starlight (2020 Hallmark)
Cast: Kimberley Sustad, Rebecca Staab, Paul Campbell
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Synopsis (via Hallmark)
When her family’s beloved eatery, The Starlight Café, is slated for demolition, Annie vows to put a stop to it before Christmas.
Chicago family lawyer, Annie Park, celebrates another win. She helps parents adopt children, which must be a fulfilling and sometimes heartbreaking job. Her parents run a neighborhood Starlight Cafe and are pretty intrusive in her life. The parents are hiding a lease termination notice from Holt Enterprises. When Annie learns of the eviction, she marches down to Holt Enterprises to give the CEO a piece of her mind.
William Holt is a manchild who doesn’t want to run his business and wants to have fun. His father calls in a lawyer to keep him in line. William sneaks out of the office and mistakes Annie for one of the interviewees, and hires her on the spot. (and also insults her clothing.) William will save the Starlight Cafe as long as Annie pretends to be his lawyer to get his father off his back.
Annie shows up for her first day and meets Lyle, William’s maybe gay personal assistant. He is fabulous and sassy… and possibly gay! William is assigned to plan a fundraiser for the business, and Annie suggests the cafe. Since William doesn’t do anything, he makes Annie and Lyle plan it for him.
William and Annie pick out a Christmas tree, take advantage of local shops holiday discounts, and talk about saving small businesses. Annie wins over a high profile client by being her genuine self.
While eating ice cream at a local department store, William and Annie come up with the original theme of Christmas magic. Then they randomly share high school photos. As Annie recaps the day with her mom and diner waitress, Helen, she realizes they don’t have a menu planned, and the diner can only make breakfast food. Lyle and his HUSBAND, Michael, come to the rescue with a caterer recommendation that they used for their wedding.
Will and Annie come up with plan B when the event hits capacity, turning the neighboring old bookstore into an event space. They put in some sweat equity and turn the space around. Then the caterers cancel, because… TV movie. Annie asks her favorite BBQ food truck to cater instead. I’m not sure if Will then turns the book store into a skating rink or just takes Annie to a skating rink. Either way, they almost kiss in slipping on ice, catching thing.
Over grilled cheese, Annie opens up about being adopted when she was four and how amazing her adoptive parents are. Will and Annie are growing close and closer. The next day Annie texts Will that she had a special night with him and immediately tries to delete it. (Been there!) Will gets the text after coming clean to his father about Annie planning the event and not being his real lawyer. Will’s father is incredibly disappointed. (Which is surprising because this seems to have been Will’s MO for a long time.)
It is the night of the fundraiser, and both Will and Annie clean up nicely. The mood is ruined when Annie overhears will talking with one of his clients about still demolishing the building. Annie tells him to talk to the hand because she doesn’t want to hear his excuses for breaking his promise to her. (It is unforgivable, really.) After a pep talk from her dad, Annie realizes she needs to give Will another chance. Only after he performs his grand gesture of coming to the diner and making an impassioned speech about not tearing down the diner while looking handsome.
Annie wants to trust him but is worried that he is lying to her again. She doesn’t want to live without him. They kiss and all is forgiven. Will gifts Annie her snow globe and a key that makes it work again. The end!
Paul Campbell & Kimberley Sustad wrote this movie as well as star. They did great in both aspects.
Minority Report: Helen, Chelsea, Marco, Michael, New Parents, real estate agent, Cafe Musician, Eddie,
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Hallmark Crown Media