"While amidst the plethora of dreadful Christmas T.V. films doing the rounds this is not the worst you’ll find"

Christmas films are a tradition at this time of year and bad Christmas films seem to multiply each passing December, especially if you delve into the darker recesses of your television channels. In that vein comes Holiday Joy, a well-meaning if predictable T.V. film from Common Sense media.

Set in the build up to Christmas, Bailee Madison plays Joy, a 15 year-old girl who attends a Hallmark high school and, since the death of her mother, improbably plays mother to her two brothers and father. She cooks, she cleans, she gets everyone ready and she looks after the dog. All the while studying at school. Oh, and being perfect on the clarinet.

When not doing all that she finds herself peering across the lawn at the Wellmans, a seemingly perfect family next door. When Joy is hit by a car, the film veers slightly into ‘Freaky Friday’ territory as she turns into a member of the aforementioned family. She also becomes by far and away the most popular girl in the entire school – and the script goes to painful lengths to remind us of this.

Yet as Joy also looks across at her ‘former’ home, she sees a run down and decrepit place missing the glue that held it all together. Oddly though, she forgets her admittedly unique situation and keeps behaving like the old Joy, telling her ‘brothers’ off and on occasion behaving at school as if nothing has changed. It’s handled without any real subtlety, not a feint modicum for believability (within its own rules) and tonally is all over the place. The story has some dark elements which sit largely out of kilter with the general feel of proceedings.

As it unfolds, the predictable plot plays out to a conclusion that is undeniably well-intentioned if (equally predictably) overtly saccharine as well. While amidst the plethora of dreadful Christmas T.V. films doing the rounds this is not the worst you’ll find, that perhaps says more about the company in which this finds itself rather than serving as any real endorsement for the film itself.