Comfort And Joy

TV movies decked with sentiment are a holiday tradition, but few films actually become perennials, but Maggie Greenwald and Judd Parkin's fantasy packs enough insouciance to merit yearly viewing. Working 18-hour days leaves advertising executive Jane (Nancy McKeon) with little time for dating or Christmas shopping. So it's no wonder she gravitates towards...read more

Reviewed by Robert Pardi
Rating:

TV movies decked with sentiment are a holiday tradition, but few films actually become perennials, but Maggie Greenwald and Judd Parkin's fantasy packs enough insouciance to merit yearly viewing.

Working 18-hour days leaves advertising executive Jane (Nancy McKeon) with little time for dating or Christmas shopping. So it's no wonder she gravitates towards fellow workaholics like Richard (Grant Nickalls), who don’t anticipate the sound of wedding bells or the patter of little feet in their foreseeable futures. Before the inevitable family get-together, Jane picks up last-minute gifts for her divorced parents, soft-spoken George (Paul Dooley) and youth-conscious mother Frederica (Dixie Carter), who together make a convincing argument that marriage just doesn't work. En route to the dreaded soiree, frazzled Jane hits a patch of ice; a Good Samaritan named Sam (Steven Eckholdt) rescues her from the spin and invites her inside his cheery abode. Then the weirdness starts: Sam tells Jane they've been married for ten years, leaving her to wonder whether she’s suffering from a concussion or a nightmare. In this topsy turvy time-warp, confirmed bachelor Richard is married, and her squabbling parents have renewed their vows. When two adorable children begin clamoring for her maternal attention, Jane really starts to think she's lost her mind. But she's actually gone back to the future and is experiencing a sneak preview of her life ten years hence. For all her fussing that she's not the domestic type, selfless, sensitive Sam shows infinite patience, and Jane eventually realizes she's been shown the future so she can reconcile her contradictory identities and figure out how to make the leap from swimming with sharks to baking brownies for the PTA.

Sassy telewriter Parkin has a knack for spotting recyclable movie clichés, but his suburban-mom version of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE plays surprisingly well, even if its retro conclusion is that career women burned out trying to have it all should beat a hasty retreat to home and hearth.

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