Joe Mantegna in A Very Married Christmas (2004)

Missing Matrimonial Merriment

Frank Griffin (Joe Mantegna) knew things weren't right when his wife Ellen (Jean Smart) started going to evening classes and had a spring in her step so he wasn't that surprised when she told him she wanted a separation. With their daughter Zoe (Jordy Benattar) to consider they try to stay living in the same house but that just made things worse especially of Frank's vivid imagination kept on getting the better of him. But as he tries to process what is happening to his once routine life he spots the attractive Donna (Kari Matchett) who is signing people up to become mall Santa's which Frank finds himself doing. He also finds himself becoming close to Donna but that adds more complications as her husband left a couple of years earlier after making a mess of things and her son Gabe (Andrew Chalmers) wants him to come home. Thank goodness there is Ozzy Larson (Charles Durning) and his wife who run Santa lessons to offer some friendly advice.

Well trust me when I say that "A Very Married Christmas" is not your run of the mill, cutesy made for TV Christmas movie with subjects surrounding divorce, children struggling to deal with it as well as a few other minor plot points which you are unlikely to see in a Hallmark Christmas movie. So right off the bat let me say that if you spot "A Very Married Christmas" and plan to watch expecting cute Christmassy fun this may not be the movie for your despite having some fun and a touching even feel good side.

But in a way "A Very Married Christmas" leaves me a little conflicted as whilst I could not take my eyes off of the light drama unfolding in front of my eyes it wasn't what I was expecting. There is this strange mix as whilst we follow Frank what we get is him dealing with his marriage in limbo, his feelings for a woman who truth be told is still in love with her absent husband whilst he also deals with some very vivid fantasies and dreams. It is kind of weird especially when you are more use to cutesy Christmas movies as whilst the whole movie has a lightness it still deals with troubled marriages, feelings of loss, anger and betrayal.

What is for sure is "A Very Married Christmas" belongs to Joe Mantegna as whilst Jean Smart, Kari Matchett and Charles Durning all deliver entertaining performances the whole movie rests of Mantegna. And the good news is that Mantegna delivers as he brings to life the drama of a man dealing with the end of his marriage but also bringing the humour from scenes involving a mime artist trying to cheer him up to those vivid dreams and visions which leave him stunned.

What this all boils down to is that that "A Very Married Christmas" is not your everyday cheerful Christmas movie despite having a light tone to it. In fact in a strange way this drama about family issues makes a bit of a refreshing change to the usual Christmas movies which get made for TV each year and whilst a little weird in places is surprisingly engaging.

Tags: TV Christmas Movies, Santa Claus, Christmas Movies