One of the downsides of being a television critic is that you're forced to stick with a bad made-for-television movie long after the moment you would otherwise turn it off. It's my job to judge the entire thing from the first moment until the credits roll. Even though the odds of the quality improving after the first twenty minutes is generally pretty slim.
Twenty minutes into "A Godwink Christmas," I was looking at my watch and aching to grab my phone. The film stars Kimberly Sustad ("Chesapeake Shores") as Angela, a St. Louis antique appraiser who is unhappy with her life in the way that at least half of the leads in Christmas movies share in common with each other. She loves her job but dreams of opening up a small antique store. And while she loves her boyfriend of two years, Daniel (Giles Panton, "Chesapeake Shores"), his unexpected marriage proposal leaves her thinking more about missed opportunities than marital bliss.
A brief lifeline comes from her Aunt Jane (Kathie Lee Gifford) who invites Paula to her Nantucket home for the holidays. And thanks to a series of unexpected events, she ends up headed to Martha's Vineyard to visit the local antique stores by herself. And that's where she meets Gery, a handyman-turned Inn owner and he is everything her fiancee could never be. And since this is a Hallmark Christmas movie, we know the end game here. It's just not obvious how it's all going to work out as we get there.
Until Angela and Gery meet, "A Godwink Christmas" is lifeless and dreary. Kimberly Sustad is a good actress, but she seems a bit lost early on and she displays no on-camera chemistry with the man who is supposed to be her fiancee. By the time she gets to Martha's Vineyard, I am ready to be anywhere else other than sitting in front of my television.
Much to my surprise, the movie finally finds its heart when Angela and Gery meet. Sustad and Campbell have a real chemistry and on-screen attraction as they do a wonderful job of subtly flirting and fall in love on camera. And yes, it all works out in the end although there are a couple of slightly unexpected twists along the way.
I can't say that I can exactly recommend "A Godwink Christmas," given the lifeless clunkiness of the first third of the movie. And weirdly enough for a movie based on both a true story and the series of "Godwink" books, the central premise of the movie never really resonates or seems true. But the last two-thirds are well worth watching for Sustad and Campbell alone, so if you see the movie pop up again sometime in the future, tuning in won't be a painful experience.
"A Godwink Christmas" premiered on the Hallmark Movies And Mysteries Channel on Sunday, November 18th, 2018.