Sunday, November 1, 2020

Christmas in Carolina Review: A Hallmark Movie With A Diverse, All Black Cast

Release date: November 1, 2020
Running time: 75 minutes
Kellie Shanygne Williams (Family Matters), Darius McCrary (Family Matters), Joslyn Y. Hall (Atlanta), David L. Rowell (Com-pli-cat-ed)
irected By Peggy Williams
Written By Stacie Davis

After losing her parents in a car accident, Elle (Joslyn Y. Hall of Atlanta), a career-driven investment banker has given up on love and Christmas until she meets Wesley (David L. Rowell of Com-pli-cat-ed), a former NBA player and CEO of a small marketing firm. After a couple of dates, Wesley invites Elle home for Christmas in South Carolina, with his parents (Kellie Shanygne Williams and Darius McCrary of ‘Family Matters’). With hesitation, Elle accepts and is given a much bigger present than she could ever have imagined! 

Christmas in Carolina is a feel good family film.  Although it starts out with a little bit of drama (and ends with a little bit of drama), the overall feeling of this movie is a positive, wholesome one.  The first thing you will notice about this film is the all black cast and particularly the use of two members of the popular Family Matters sitcom.  Darius McCrary (who played Eddie Winslow) and Kellie Shanygne Williams (who played Laura Winslow) are both attached to this film and, probably intentionally, play siblings in this movie.  They have prominent and important roles, but they are not the stars.  Those are played by Joslyn Y. Hall and newcomer David L. Rowell, who play the main couple in this film.  For Rowell's first starring role, he is surprisingly smooth with a natural chemistry that shows on screen.  The dialogue was a little rough (well, most of the cast outside of the Family Matters alums had some rough dialogue) but you can definitely see the potential star in the making.  Hall's character was an interesting one and I loved the general role reversal in this film.  Hall played the busy career focused character who didn't have time for dating, whereas Rowell played a family person who was just looking for love.  And overall I loved the all black cast featuring characters that break the Hollywood norms.  You had two successful black lead characters and a loving, supportive family.  

However, Christmas in Carolina had some rough edges and issues that were noticeable and surprising.  First off, the audio had major issues.  This might have been the fault of the review copy that I had, but there were definite times when background noise was picked up or a conversation would have multiple volume levels within it.  It was distracting at times and I definitely wish that the audio had received a second pass.  Additionally, the writing was hit or miss, with some conversations just feeling unnatural.  And the story fell into a lot of Hollywood tropes and also definitely felt like the budget was a constraint.  Some sections seemed to happen too fast or cut off too frequently, which was distracting at times and made the film feel choppy at other times.  For example, Wesley and Elle's relationship progresses very quickly and without a ton of rhyme or reason.  You can tell that there is a trajectory that the film wants to hit and tries to push everything to that point.  I wish this movie had had a little more time to flesh out the scenes as I felt like more continuity and more time to develop the characters would have done this movie well. 

Christmas in Carolina tells a family friendly Christmas tale with an all black cast, positive role model characters, and a loving family environment.  

Rent it.

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