Call me crazy (a five film), but when the word “Christmas” is in a movie’s title, that movie should probably be about Christmas, right? Apparently I’m wrong, because this week’s Lifetime movie A Country Christmas Story mostly took place during times of the year not flavored with peppermint, and the parts of the movie that were set during the holidays didn’t really depend on it. I will therefore just assume that Lifetime had this whole movie planned out and then realized it would be premiering during the start of It’s a Wonderful Lifetime, so they said, “Quick! Throw a wreath into this scene. Have Dolly Parton sing ten seconds of ‘Jingle Bells.’ We can’t expect people to watch non-Christmas movies at the beginning of November! What are we, monsters?!”
This movie was mostly just about a couple of terrible parents who somehow managed to raise a lovely and talented daughter whom they then treat like garbage. Those terrible parents are Jenny (Megyn Price) and Danny (Brian McKnight), an interracial divorced couple whose 14-year-old daughter Grace (Desiree Ross) sings in the choir. Even though Danny moved out just three years ago to pursue music, Grace is somehow barely aware that he and her mother used to perform together. When she discovers the guitar he left behind, she wants to learn to play it, but her mother forbids her because she’s selfish and allows her own insecurities about her failed marriage to get in the way of her daughter’s passion. Merry not-Christmas!
Grace is a little rebel, however, so she leaves her guitar at her awesome grandma Sarah’s (Mary Kay Place) house and takes lessons with her choir director. Here’s where things got a little creepy for me. Grace visits Mr. Hanley’s (Ross McCall) house without her mother’s knowledge and without anyone else around. That’s… kind of inappropriate, right? Things start to get weird when they talk about songwriting and Grace says, “No one cares what I have to say,” and Mr. Hanley replies, “I care.” I was really scared that this was going to turn into another type of Lifetime movie, and I’m very relieved that it didn’t. Still, that should probably be against the rules.
It’s certainly against her mom’s rules, so much so that she forbids Grace from living in her home as long as she wants to play guitar, because she doesn’t want to put the idea into her head that she can make it as a singer. Just so we’re clear, she kicks her daughter out of the house because she wants to play an instrument, not because she’s doing drugs or getting pregnant or peeing in mop buckets. On top of all this, when Grace informs her that she wants to try out for Dolly Parton’s Country Star of Tomorrow competition, her mom is all, “A biracial girl singing country? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Oh great, so now the mom’s racist too. How fa la la la lovely.
Meanwhile, Grace’s dad Danny comes into town to pay a debt and also initially to see his daughter, but he chickens out at the last second and leaves without visiting her, because let me reiterate that the parents in this movie are terrible. Nevertheless, his non-visit makes Grace’s mom reconsider her behavior and apologize to her daughter just in time for the movie to start focusing on this country competition. Still not much Christmas happening here, but I guess we’ll get to that later. I guess we’ll also get to the country music part later, because I haven’t heard a whole lot of it so far. This movie’s title is pretty much totally made up of lies.
Grace writes a sappy song and puts together an audition video, which of course leads to her becoming a finalist, as we already know from the beginning of the movie where we saw her onstage at the competition and then flashed back to a year earlier. So all this suspense isn’t really necessary, Lifetime, okay?