The Christmas House: A House Divided

Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) have been married for many years. They invite their two adult sons, Mike (Robert Buckley) and Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) to stay with them for the two weeks leading up to Christmas, to revisit an old family tradition. 
- Synopsis from Wikipedia

It is an ensemble movie, so you get to know the three couples fairly well. Brandon and Jake felt the most affectionate. The parents' relationship seemed the most complex (which was interesting considering Hallmark rarely focuses on established love). Mike and Andi's relationship is interspersed with flashbacks—something I didn't care for.

This had a bit of an interesting plot because of the mystery surrounding the mother and father. At first, I thought the parents wanted their children home for one last Christmas because one of them was dying, and then I was positive that one of them cheated on the other. My husband and I were guessing the entire way as to what was happening between the parents but never got it right (because it seemed a little silly, if somewhat valid).

The sons act like children towards each other, even though they are both successful adults. Watching grown men chase each other through an airport, razz each other about past things, and talk about who their parents' favorite was felt like they were trying too hard to establish rapport or bring comic relief.

The filmmakers didn't have to worry about the comic relief, because the acting did a good job by itself. The fake TV show Mike is on (Handsome Justice) was funny for the wrong reasons. Some of our actors gave very bad performances and, while I don't want to criticize child actors, Noah just didn't shine in any particular way. A magician character who took Mike under his wing when he was young (and now helps with Noah) was an odd character I found strangely endearing.

All three couples have difficulties barring their way to happiness: Bill and Phyllis are having marriage troubles, Brandon and Jake are waiting to adopt after failed tries, and Mike and Andi are rediscovering each other again while he tries to save his show. Of course, in the last fifteen minutes of the movie, everything falls into place... including magical adoption news near Christmas Eve! We even get a bit of a montage/epilogue.

I felt it was a mediocre once-watch, but my husband liked it well enough to recommend. Find this movie on The Hallmark Channel or their streaming service. If watch it and enjoy, you can visit The Christmas House again when the sequel premieres this month! 

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