On the eighth day of Christmas, TMP brings to you… a snow-filled rom-com to view! Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating today. Happy viewing! And happy holidays!
We’re capping off this year’s Eight Days of Christmas with a recent FilmStruck discovery of mine, a delightful 2001 Sundance hit called Christmas in the Clouds. A more recent film than you’re used to seeing here on TMP, but after watching, I couldn’t help giving this lovely film a full review.
Sometimes, the holiday season can be very stressful. This is especially true for Ray Clouds on Fire (Timothy Vahle), a ski resort owner hoping for his business to gain entry into a popular guidebook — and win the dollars of tourists, as a result.
When Tina Littlehawk (Mariana Tosca) arrives at the resort, saying she’s from New York and using a different name to check in, Ray assumes she’s the reviewer who will determine whether the resort is qualified for the guidebook.
In reality, Tina is visiting the resort to scope out a man she’s been writing letters to — Joe Clouds on Fire (Sam Vlahos), Ray’s father. Unbeknownst to Tina, she’s been writing to a much older man. When she sees one of her letters sticking out of Ray’s pocket, she makes an assumption of her own. Complications ensue.
Christmas in the Clouds was written and directed by Kate Montgomery.
The pen pal plot of Christmas in the Clouds is totally classic, reminiscent of one of my personal favorites, You’ve Got Mail (and its predecessors, The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime). This 2001 film is every bit as enjoyable!
There are hijinks of mistaken identity, and some quirky characters in the resort staff, to add to the fun. One of my favorite supporting players was Graham Greene as Earl, the vegetarian chef, who walks the dining room telling guests the life stories of the animals they’re eating! Another is the girl-crazy Phil, portrayed by Jonathan Joss, with his scene of dramatic romance novel reading.
While this isn’t a Hallmark-style, Christmas-on-overload holiday romance with heavy sentimentality, there are some festive bits to enjoy. The scenery and setting are beautiful, especially after that magical first snow arrives. There’s also a very sweet scene of a holiday party at the resort.
The script is well-paced and cleverly written. There’s plenty of humor, but a few more serious moments, too, offering an effective blend of comedy, romance, and drama. The familiar rom-com set-up is carried out very well.
The subplot involving Ray’s attempt to get the resort into the guidebook is also effective. The viewer immediately roots for his success, because he cares so much about making the lodge a success not for his own wealth or status, but as a point of pride for his nation. They built it, and they own an operate it, so he wants it to be a successful venture for everyone — a real competitor to the more “corporate” resorts in the area.
All of the film’s plotlines are resolved nicely, in a heartfelt and heart-warming fashion. I particularly enjoyed the script’s handling of Tina’s discovery of the truth about Joe. By the end she, of course, realizes that Ray is not the letter-writer, but his father is. Rather than getting angry or deciding to pursue a weird May-December-ish relationship, Joe and Tina acknowledge the fact that they both assumed their ages were different. They accept each other’s friendship and continue to enjoy each other’s platonic company, walking around the resort arm-in-arm, deep in conversation. It’s adorable, and in typical rom-com fashion, Tina gets the romance she hoped for, too — with handsome Ray.
Christmas in the Clouds is a sweet, lovable film that really left me in a good mood. It may not be the most Christmas-y film around, despite having the word “Christmas” in the title, but it’s a great watch for this time of year. It’ll thaw your heart and leave you smiling.