The Christmas Contest Plot Summary
Lara and Ben are exes who compete in a Christmas contest to win money for the charity of their choosing. The city watches them battle to choose which is more important–victory or love.
Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, John Brotherton, and Barbara Niven
Image: Crown Media
The Movie Is Based on a Book
The Christmas Contest is based on the novel of the same name by Scarlet Wilson. It has 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and reviewers say it is funny, engaging, heart-warming, and light.
The spirit of the book matches the movie, but there are several differences. The book’s setting is Vermont, not Denver. Lara and Ben are strangers, not exes. Some of the contests are different, and the sponsor is a radio station, not a TV program.
If you’re a reader, you can find this seasonal romance here:
Not One of Candace Cameron Bure’s Best
Candace Cameron Bure has a very loyal fan following. Dubbed the Queen of Christmas, CCB’s Hallmark movies rarely disappoint. Having set such a high bar, many fans were surprised by their lack of enthusiasm for The Christmas Contest after it initially aired, saying they had a difficult time finishing the movie.
The Christmas Contest was a reunion of CCB and her Fuller House co-star, John Brotherton, so viewers of that program held high expectations.
Brotherton is superb and entertaining in his role as Ben Winters, nailing the egocentric, lone wolf jock role with little heart for people, then evolving into a caring mentor for children who’s ready to embrace commitment. It’s especially sweet and tender the way Ben teaches a shy and withdrawn Jayce that the secret to having friends isn’t about doing something that makes them like him–it’s about being himself and having a healthy self-concept.
Although the movie is comically playful, CCB’s heart doesn’t seem into the role, and it shows. She over-acts in some scenes and is distant in others, making her overall performance feel forced. Is she spreading herself too thin with juggling Aurora Teagarden and Christmas movies along with writing books, promoting her own clothing line, and keeping up with her family life? Or could it be playing the exact same part in cookie cutter rom-coms isn’t challenging and we’re sensing her boredom? Despite how gorgeous CCB is, she is 45. She’s a mom with three adult children, so in that sense, it looks a little ridiculous to keep reprising the role of a young woman who’s never been wed.
Regardless, the movie is still worth watching at least once. Barbara Niven plays a great mom not keen on the man who broke her daughter’s heart, the contest events are fun to watch, and the emotional struggle of Ben’s grandma reminds us to reach out to widows to help keep them connected.
Favorite Movie Line
The movie uses a lot of Christmas-y puns, but on a serious note, Ben admits near the end:
I wish I could go back in time to set some things right and feel some things twice.
What a beautiful sentiment that is so relatable! Don’t we all make mistakes and wish for do-overs? Some feelings, like the excitement of falling in love or watching our littles open gifts on Christmas morning, are only experienced once or for a short season of our lives, and how wonderful it would be if we could turn back the clock to feel them again.