Gilbert's Little Town Pageant
"The Christmas Pageant" is one of those made for TV Christmas movies that if you embrace the goodwill of the festive season you will enjoy but probably dislike if you are looking for something original rather than schmaltzy and obvious. To put it more simply whilst I had never watched "The Christmas Pageant" before I knew the story because this is that old tale of a cynical city girl ending up in a small town for Christmas, warming to small town friendliness and finding love leading to a choice between going back to the city or staying. It is predictable from start to finish and is almost a procession through various cute Christmas scenes but it is sweet and sentimental and if that is what you want from a Christmas movie that is what it delivers.
Vera Parks (Melissa Gilbert - Sacrifices of the Heart) is a tough Broadway director, maybe a little too tough as she is sacked for being too aggressive and then discovers her reputation precedes her as no one wants to hire her. Well no one that is except a back water town who want to hire her to direct their annual Christmas Pageant. Less than impressed at directing a traditional nativity play in a small town where her ideas are not welcome, matters are made more complicated when she discovers a former boyfriend Jack (Robert Mailhouse - All I Want for Christmas) now lives in the town.
I've lost track at the number of movies I have watched where someone from the city reluctantly ends up in a small back water town and whilst initially finding the friendliness alien ends up warming to the community spirit. And "The Christmas Pageant" is no different as it follows Vera ending up in the back water town which loves Christmas and their annual pageant which has been the same since the first one in 1893.
As such as we watch Vera go from almost leaving to enjoying small town life and making friends as well as the obligatory romantic sub plot which in itself is another cliche. From the love being a former boyfriend to him being a widow with a sweet daughter it is as obvious as everything else about "The Christmas Pageant" especially when inevitably Vera gets offered a dream job back in New York and has to decide between career and her new friends.
The thing is that whilst "The Christmas Pageant" is seriously predictable because it is a familiar basic storyline it is also good innocent fun. It may not be the most magical of Christmas movies but the sweet, cute and sentimental elements are entertaining if that is what you like. If you don't like sweet and sentimental then there is a good chance you will dislike or even hate this movie.
As for the acting well Melissa Gilbert is fun to watch as Vera, delivering an enjoyable performance of a cliche character making her amusing as well as loveable. And so do the rest of the cast be it Edward Herrmann who plays Garrett the B&B owner through to Robert Mailhouse who does enough as the former boyfriend and easy going widow.
What this all boils down to is that "The Christmas Pageant" is not the most original of movies as it uses a very familiar story as the basis but it works. Well it works if you want some easy going romantic Christmas cuteness because it has it in abundance.