Sometimes you just have to write about why Lifetime’s The Spirit of Christmas is the best, most ridiculous holiday movie ever created and the one we can’t go a season without watching. We’re not saying it could ever compete with timeless classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis, Little Women, etc., but what we are saying is that it’s pretty damn great and if this genre isn’t normally your cup of tea, it’s one of the few that’ll manage a high rating.
The Spirit of Christmas is completely farcical in its attempt to be distinct, but nevertheless, it succeeds. It follows the story of a lawyer whose promotion is dependent on her ability to obtain the deed to a presumably haunted inn. She visits the inn, meets the ghost, they bicker, they have heart to hearts, and then, well it is Christmas—they fall in love. See, it’s completely ridiculous in every way a movie trying to weave in hauntings and Christmas can be on a network like Lifetime, but that’s entirely what makes it such a delight. The eerie love story is anything but uncanny and it works in keeping the audience intrigued.
Daniel Forsyth (Thomas Beaudoin), the suave ghostly lead still dubbing his 1920s gear, suspenders and all, is charmingly easy on the eyes, but a dramatic grump with a heart of gold. It’s the kind of jam everyone’s searching for during the holidays isn’t it? Say it with us, character development. But we get it, grief, murder, frustration, we’d be cranky too. And here’s the thing, in order for every part of the movie to work, suspension of belief has to take place. You have to go into it refusing logic away and choosing to believe that everything is possible. That means, attractive ghosts can linger strictly for the 12 days of Christmas, they can eat, and they can be a bartender—visible to all. Everything about The Spirit of Christmas works because it forces you into a mystery that’s grounded in twinkling lights and a stunning snowcapped inn. Our heroine Kate (Jen Lilley) is a spunky gorgeous lawyer with an excellent wardrobe and zero motivation to deal with a snarky ghost. But it’s Lifetime, it’s Christmas, they fall in love, and at the end of the day, the story is centered around the importance of choice. Daniel chooses to move on with Kate. Kate chooses to stay with Daniel.
There isn’t some profound lesson to be learned, but if we need something to hold on to, we can look into the idea of granting people their own agency. And that’s precisely what makes these movies such a delight—people choose the lives they want to lead. The corporate lawyer always chooses to stay in the small town. It is what it is, we’d choose it, too if we’re being honest. Who wouldn’t? The essence of the curse is the power of one’s own choice. But here’s the pitch if these types of movies aren’t typically your jam, The Spirit of Christmas is everyone’s jam.
It’s visually stunning given the smaller budget, the Hollygrove Inn’s interior is a marvel to look at it, and chemistry between our leads is downright infectious. Beaudoin and Lilley are some of the strongest scene partners we’ve seen in a film like this. When Daniel and Kate look at each other, melting is inevitable. When Daniel and Kate bicker, melting is inevitable. Their bickering is written with a type of tender showcase you’re bound to enjoy. The acting works.
Let’s be frank here, sometimes dialogue for such genres is so cheesy, we absolutely get why it can be cringeworthy, but with The Spirit of Christmas, it works. It feels oddly natural and given the mystery, it feels less like a cheesy holiday film and more like something that should have released in theaters. Yes, I said that. The Spirit of Christmas is the best Lifetime/Holiday film for all the reasons listed above and more. If you love longing gazes, tropey romance centered around a grump and sunshine, teamwork, and a good ol’ “man out of time” storyline, this is going to be your new favorite cheesy holiday film. And even if it’s not your favorite, you’re still going to love it. We don’t say a lot of things with full confidence, but this we’re certain of. Trust us.
The Spirit of Christmas is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu!