Stream or skip? +2023

Suitable for Christmas is here to boost your holiday spirit. And as the only major television network with a full line of original vacation movies, CBS is set to prove once again that vacation comedy isn’t just for cable and streaming. But is Suitable for Christmas a skinny mean pleasure machine? Or is it the vacation movie equivalent of a medicine ball and an old, contemporary barbell?

The essentials: Amanda Kloots plays Audrey, a fitness trainer who’s back home in the tiny, snowy town of Mistletoe after failing to make it to New York City. Her gym has closed and her boyfriend wanted to take a break from their relationship — but at least she’s back home and running some last-minute classes at her beloved recreation center. But because she’s starring in a vacation movie, nothing is sacred – not even the recreation center! It turns out that the recreation center is closing and a big city developer is ready to swoop in and turn the entire area into a swanky resort that threatens to put all local businesses out of business. A hot-blooded businessman named Griffin (Paul Greene) is in town to secure the votes needed to continue with the renovations, and you’d better believe Griffin isn’t a fan of Christmas. Gripping? grinch? hmmmm….

Amanda Kloots as Audrey and Paul Greene as Griffin

How will Audrey possibly raise the $80,000 needed to keep the recreation center afloat? And how will Audrey secure the votes she needs to stop Mr. Grinch from bringing his wrecking ball to her home far from home? And what will Griffin and Audrey do when they literally bump into each other all over town? Everyone knows that when you meet someone in one of these movies, you’re bound to kiss about 80 minutes later!

Which movies will it remind you of?: Oh, just about every single holiday comedy to air on every network in the last decade. Within the first five minutes Suitable for Christmas states that Audrey didn’t make it to NYC, the small town loves Christmas, the recreation center is closing, Audrey’s mother had a studio at the recreation center, Audrey’s mother is dead, Audrey’s father refuses to move on, and Griffin doesn’t care about Christmas. It’s almost like Suitable for Christmas is a gymnast who appears in the Christmas movie at the Summer Olympics, and you watch them land every single somersault on their floor routine. It’s kind of spectacular.

Notable performance: Amanda Kloots is best known as a fitness personality and CBS daytime show host The conversation. Suitable for Christmas proves Kloots can translate her charisma into a scripted performance. What she lacks in experience, she more than makes up for in Cameron Diaz-style gusto. She has a big smile, infectious energy and such a can-do attitude in every scene.

Amanda Kloots as Audrey.  Photo Credit: Michael Courtney/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Memorable dialogue: Audrey to Griffin after their first meeting: “One word of advice: This town isn’t called Mistletoe for nothing. We are a Christmas oasis. If you don’t like the holiday, I’d be on my way.” Chef’s kiss.

A holiday tradition: Carl’s Tavern (which has been passed down from generation to generation of Carls and Carlas) hosts Mistletoe Trivia Night on Saturdays, the library has a toy shop, Mistletoe has a Christmas Market, and the Leisure Center hosts an annual Christmas Eve party.

Two lovebirds: Other businesses to be rescued by two people this year while falling in love:

  • A local bakery (A Gingerbread Christmas on Discovery+
  • An animal rescue (The dog days of Christmas for lifetime)
  • A contractor (A Tiny Home Christmas on UPtv)
  • A theater (A show stopping Christmas for lifetime)
  • A magazine (Must love Christmas on CBS)
  • A maple farm (Juicy vacation on UPtv)

Does the title make sense?: It does, but I wish the film had emphasized the “fit” aspect more. The title would work wonders with a film about someone who had to lose weight to fit into his late father’s tuxedo in time for a Christmas gala, for example – and maybe the man hates Christmas, so not only does he need to be fit for Christmas, he needs his Christmas stories too brush up to be fit to celebrate Christmas. This is… a whole different movie! I’m calling Dibs for the script.

Paul Greene as Griffin and Amanda Kloots as Audrey

Our opinion: Suitable for Christmas is a simple, calming, even calming clock during the 2022 holiday movie season. It’s hot cocoa, it’s tiny marshmallows, it’s an oversized blanket from Target, and it’s a pine-scented candle to light up your living room at night (and labeled “Night”) I mean 4 p.m.). Names have been changed, professions switched, and one snowy town traded for another, but this is still every single holiday novel you’ve ever seen – and that’s the whole point.

What’s interesting this year, however, is how many films are breaking the format — either by being a completely different genre, commenting on the genre, or shifting the priorities of the genre. To get back to the state of things for a second, it’s like visiting your best friend from college. Ye were not separated for to long but still great to catch up.

Quiet, Suitable for Christmas is hurt by this comparison – and come on, it’s impossible not to compare all these movies if you watch them every day. We’ve seen, on a few occasions, other films that go with the tried and true formula while still making it feel fresh, either by being the funniest holiday movie of the year or by using a dang period play (a period play – on a simple cables) are budget?!). If you’ve seen plenty of holiday romance this season, including some of the more unexpected ones, then watch Suitable for Christmas could be as boring as it is soothing.

I’ll say this about CBS getting in on the holiday TV movie fight yet again — especially since it’s the only major network that’s really committed: They make great-looking movies… by holiday TV movie standards, at least. Nothing about their films comes cheap, even though they rely on the same limited indoor and outdoor Main Street locations in the US as any other vacation film. It’s really the lighting and cinematography that generally looks richer in the CBS films than almost anywhere else, and that adds to the viewability. But even that can be like aspect ratios and motion smoothing, the sort of thing some people obsess over (hello) and others sugarcoat.

Our appeal: I will only choose SKIP IT because there have been so many holiday movies this season that have taken the formula to more entertaining places even if they weren’t as good looking. But you know – if you’re looking for holiday entertainment on a big network, then Suitable for Christmas is an absolutely fine comfort watch. Let it be the first of many Amanda Kloots Christmases.

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