Hallmark shows that love can come in many forms with Christmas film A Season for Family. Single mom Maddy (Stacey Farber) takes her adopted son Wesley (Benjamin Jacobson) to her parents’ Utah home for the holidays in hopes of giving him the ultimate gift: a reunion with his long lost brother. But when Wesley ends up unknowingly befriending said brother, Cody (Azriel Dalman), Maddy and Cody’s dad, Paul (Brendan Penny) end up in the middle of a complicated situation that brings their families together in unexpected ways.
A SEASON FOR FAMILY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Stacey Farber (Virgin River, Degrassi: The Next Generation) plays Maddy, who manages a five star hotel in San Fransisco, where she has been raising her adopted son, Wesley (Benjamin Jacobson), on her own. Maddy finally takes some well-earned time off for the holidays to stay with her parents at their Park City, Utah home and help Wesley make his Christmas wish come true. Wesley recently found out that he has a brother who was adopted into a different family before they were old enough to remember each other, and all they know about the boy is that he lives in Utah.
Ready to enjoy their Utah Christmas vacation, Maddy and Wesley head to a struggling ski shop to get some gear, only for sparks to fly between Maddy and the shop’s owner, Paul (Brendan Penny). Then by incredible chance or perhaps even fate, Wesley meets and immediately befriends Paul’s son, Cody (Azriel Dalman), at ski school, without realizing that the latter is, in fact, his long lost brother. Though Maddy and Paul are interested in one another, upon realizing that their sons are brothers they are torn on how to proceed, especially because Paul still has yet to inform Cody that he’s adopted.
With the help of his best friend, Jeremy (Edward Ruttle) and sister Taylor (Jessica Sipos), Paul is challenged to stop living in the past and look forward in order to do right by his son and failing business. At the same time, Maddy must consider how she can make her son’s Christmas wish come true while also finding happiness of her own in the potential new romance with Paul and a job opportunity as the general manager of her father’s (Cameron Bancroft) resort.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: A Season for Family‘s usage of the long lost siblings who find each other by chance trope as a vehicle for their respective single parents to come together and fall in love will likely remind you of The Parent Trap.
Performance Worth Watching: Stacey Farber stands out as Maddy (and no I’m not just saying that because the character has my name) thanks to the natural and likable qualities she brings to her role. Farber is able to effortlessly project a competence and level-headedness in Maddy that makes her feel like a three-dimensional character with hopes, interests, and goals that extend beyond the limits and events we see in A Season for Family.
Memorable Dialogue: Cody and Wesley have different priorities with what they want from Santa:
“So, what would you like for Christmas?”
“I want the new play station, like Wesley’s. And some other stuff, but it’s on my Christmas list.”
“And what about you, Wesley?”
“My wish is to finish my family tree and meet my brother.”
A Holiday Tradition: Okay so this isn’t confirmed as a tradition in the movie, but the bowling scene made me want to believe that every year a guy dressed as Santa Claus comes to the local bowling alley to ask kids what they want for Christmas. Sue me for wanting to believe in a more whimsical, bowling-centric world!
Does the Title Make Any Sense?: Absolutely. A Season for Family is exactly what Christmastime is, and the film follows through with family as the focal point that drives all of the main action in the movie.
Our Take: A Season for Family isn’t groundbreaking by any means but it also definitely isn’t bad. At its heart it’s a frothy and sweet story about how one’s family is about so much more than sharing the same blood. It was really interesting to see the film try to balance a love story with a sibling one, and I truly appreciated that the romance actually took a backseat to the growing connection between brothers Wesley and Cody. It was refreshing to see the characters take their predicament seriously, as Maddy and Paul grappled with wanting to nurture their palpable budding connection while also wanting to prioritize their sons’ well-being.
The nice thing about this movie is that it gets you to care about its characters. I was genuinely worried when Paul revealed he hadn’t told Cody he’s adopted. It’s a genuinely complicated situation, especially when romance is thrown into the mix, making us realize how hard it is to be a parent while also maintaining life and interests outside one’s child. The long-awaited adoption conversation is ultimately well-handled, making for a satisfying (albeit wholly unsurprising) ending, and a very happy one once Wesley and Colt are finally told they’re brothers.
Farber does a wonderful job leading the way as Maddy and is further complemented by supporting cast members, especially Ruttle’s Jeremy and Sipos’s Taylor, who get a cute and believable little romance of their own, while also bringing some genuine charm and warmth to their roles. Paul doesn’t feel quite as fleshed out or compelling, and it’s hard to believe that by the end of the film he’s already falling in love after being hung up on his late wife and the past for so much of the film, but Paul and Maddy definitely do have something there and it was nice to see them and their boys come together to create a happy found family.
Our Call: STREAM IT. A Season for Family is a feel-good film about found families and choosing to love, which are basically what the holiday season is all about!