The Christmas Train
Danny Glover. Man... dude has been in some of my favorite movies. The Color Purple, Silverado, Predator 2, Lethal Weapon 1&2... love that old dude. Kimberly Williams, also shows up in one of my favorite movies, that being Safe House with Patrick Stewart. If you haven't seen it, find it and watch it. It's now a twenty year old movie and Sir Patrick was old in that, and he's still old. And Ms. Williams has since become Mrs. Williams-Paisley and while she was cute in that movie, she may be even better looking in this one, twenty years later. Joan Cusack... a national treasure. Only Joan can do that Joan Cusack thing she does. Finally, Dermot Mulroney. Best hair on a man in all of Hollywood, second only to John Stamos. Today, these actors have all shown up in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of 'The Christmas Train'. Hallmark's Hall of Fame series generally means the movie stars actors you've actually heard of, that aren't Lacey Chabert or Candace Cameron Bure, but it's pretty much the same junk.
Tom Langdon (Mulroney) was a former hard hitting war reporter, but now is just a fluff piece writing shell of a man catching a train from somewhere east to Los Angeles to visit a girlfriend he doesn't like, and doesn't really like him. They call this train the Christmas Train, probably because it travels at Christmas, but also because it's like magic and stuff. On this train there's a crapload of people, but lets focus on our Hall of Fame members, such as famed film director Max Powers (Glover) who is catching this train so that his script doctor Eleanor (Williams-Paisley) can stop working on other peoples scripts and finally work on one of her own. I got a feeling Max is up to something. As Max becomes fast friends with Tom and invites him dinner, imagine Eleanor and Tom's shock to see each other. Many years ago they were in love, but one day Eleanor the reporter jumped on a train in war torn Israel, asked Tom to join her on this train, Tom did not do this and they haven't seen each other since.
While this happened an awful long time ago, Eleanor still hasn't forgiven Tom for breaking her heart even though she did move on with her life, but Tom sees it differently, as he feels Eleanor abandoned him, and he's been alone ever since. Clearly these two middle-aged kids have to find each other again, but how? Maybe the Agnes the busybody (Cusack) can help bring them together. Or that clairvoyant lady (Karen Holness) can predict them back into loving each other. Then there's that young couple on the train fighting through disapproving parents and getting married anyway. Maybe this will remind them that love will not be stopped! There's more people and more stuff and even the girlfriend that hates Tom shows up not hating him as much anymore, and a mystery of somebody stealing stuff, but we need Tom and Ellie to find the love again. Actually we need Eleanor to find the love. Tom was pretty much done the moment he saw her. Will they find the love? Really? That's a real question? All it took was an avalanche, impending death for all, and some snow skis. A combination that works every time. At Christmas.
Real quick, while doing my meager research for this film, I came across a quote from some cat named David Baldacci who claimed 'The Christmas Train will be the best Hallmark Holiday movie Ever made!' I'm thinking 'who the heck is David Baldacci and where does he derive this confidence in this movie from?' Turns out he's the gentleman that wrote the novel that this movie is based on. We're gonna say that Mr. Baldacci may be lacking in the objectivity when commenting on this film.
But to the movie that we saw, do you like Schmaltz? This movie has more Schmaltz than a six-pack of Schlitz, which is a key ingredient in that fine beverage, in case you didn't know. And so many words... this movie has more words spoken by more characters than should be allowed in a 90 minute movie. Lots and lots of heartfelt, deep feeling speeches delivered so earnestly by so many. Max preaches about the dead love of his life, none of whom are his three ex-wives, and how Tom and Eleanor should get back together. The other old dude drones on about the dead love his life and how she would know the right thing to do, which is Tom and Eleanor getting back together. Tom himself was busy giving speech after speech, be it on how much he loved Eleanor or giving speeches to other characters, via advice, but prefacing this advice with 'I'm no expert'. However that didn't stop a man who's never been married, doesn't have a family, or a dead wife from telling people about to get married, estranged from their family or a recent widower what they should do. I can see why Ellie left his ass. So many words...
Despite the amount of words spoken, The Christmas Train still found time wedge in the vomit worthy elements necessary to qualify it, supremely, as a Hallmark Holiday event. We have lots of snow... even when they make it to Los Angeles which more research reveals hasn't happened since 1962. It's a Christmas Train, so there are lots of ornaments and Christmas trees, and when the train stalls, somehow the conductor lady found some random kids and trained them to harmonize some Christmas carols like the damned Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We had lots of canned Christmas music playing in the background, a near miss kiss, since it's a train there was really no room for cookie baking, but we did have a Christmas Bartender mixing up some Christmas Spirits. That might be even better. This bartender even put on a Santa Suit and delivered gifts to the random kids. He was an Asian guy, so I'm sure as soon as Asian Santa showed up Megyn Kelly probably stopped watching this movie, but otherwise, this movie bought the Hallmark goods. This is also the rare Hallmark Holiday movie with a male lead, though Dermot and Kimberly were more co-leads, but still, his ultimate goal was the same as the ladies that came before and after him... Get a mate by Christmas!
If you like these kinds of movies, this one is well done, well acted by a number of experienced actors who clearly took their roles very serious, and has all the elements that those who like these kinds expect from these kinds of movies. If you can get past the words, fans rejoice.