The American Holiday
If I tell you "Trading Christmas" is a made for TV movie about two people who swap homes for Christmas you will probably say that makes it a copy of "The Holiday". Well you would be only partly right because it takes the idea, the whole romantic comedy element and embellishes it with extra characters and TV movie/ sitcom style humour. And if you enjoy both "The Holiday" and made for TV comedies you will enjoy "Trading Christmas" as it has everything you could want with a great cast lead by Faith Ford and Tom Cavanagh.
Feeling that she wants to do something different for Christmas Boston University student Heather (Emma Lahana) tells her mum Emily (Faith Ford - A Kiss at Midnight) that she won't be coming home to South Woodbourne for Christmas this year. After calling her best friend Faith (Gabrielle Miller) in San Francisco Emily decides to do a Christmas house swap and switches places with Bostonian writer Charles (Tom Cavanagh - Snow) who wants to get away to focus on writing whilst Emily plans to surprise Heather by showing up in Boston for Christmas. What Heather hasn't told her mum is that she has gone to Phoenix with her boyfriend for Christmas whilst Faith decides to show up in South Woodbourne to surprise Emily. Well Emily discovers Heather is not in Boston whilst meeting Charles's brother Ray (Gil Bellows) and Faith shows up at Emily's only to be greeted by Charles.
So as I said "Trading Christmas" takes the basic idea of "The Holiday" and then elaborates on it with more characters and more confusion. That means at its heart "Trading Christmas" is very familiar and with Emily meeting Ray and Faith meeting Charles the romantic comedy is in place. But in a way the familiarity with the set up makes it very easy to watch and you can sit back and just enjoy all the comedy, be it romantic, confusion or in the case of Emily in Boston there is a touch of fish out of water as well.
As for that comedy well it certainly isn't what I call big screen humour as it has a more cheesy, TV movie style to it with every joke being delivered in that slightly forced sort of way. If you are familiar with TV movie comedies you will know what I mean as there are over the top gestures and over the top characters but if you enjoy them you will love "Trading Christmas". Stressed Charlie dealing with the pushy Faith as she moves in is hysterical and whilst Emily being a fish out of water in the city is familiar it is still amusing. In truth the whole romantic side be it the gentle romance of Emily and Ray of the more comical Charlie and Faith is also a lot of fun.
A big reason why this all comes together is in the brilliant casting with every single actor and actress being likeable. Faith Ford has such a relaxed way about her whilst Tom Cavanagh is brilliant as the stressed out Charlie, full of nervous ticks and angst. And then there is Gil Bellows who is quiet but nice as Ray and Gabrielle Miller as the forceful and pushy Faith.
What this all boils down to is that "Trading Christmas" is a lot of fun, it is sweet and funny and is basically an entertaining TV version of "The Holiday" just a lot more comical and elaborate, or should that be contrived.