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Christmas of Yes, one of the new films that’s part of the OWN For The Holidays series of Christmas movies airing on OWN and Max, is a romantic dramedy about a woman in search of herself. After losing her job, Amy is dared by her brother to say yes more. In doing so, she meets a guy she never would have considered dating, and she opens herself up to new personal and professional possibilities along the way. It’s not a completely original idea, but the story is filled with lots of details and dialogue that make it worth watching.
Opening Shot: Amy Bell (Michele Weaver) is up at the crack of dawn. She samples several cups of coffee – from beans that she has roasted herself – as she readies for work.
The Gist: Amy works at a digital marketing firm that she helped build, but on the day that her firm gets acquired by a global media company, she learns that, rather than a promotion, she’s getting laid off. And it’s right before Christmas! Distraught, she drinks her troubles away with her brother Phil (Ian Collins) and his husband Jacques (Louis Lay), world travelers who are staying with her for the holiday. As she wonders why her life is so mundane and her brother’s is so exciting, he explains it’s because he says yes to everything, and he challenges her to do the same.
The first thing Amy can’t say no to is an invitation to an improv show. Not only does she go to the show, but she’s forced to volunteer to participate in the show. It’s a literal nightmare, and it goes terribly, but when the show is over, she and one of the improvisers, a guy named Nico (Jeff Pierre), can’t stop poking fun at one another about how poorly the show went. There are clearly some sparks there, and she starts to spend time with Nico, who she learns is a teacher (since improv doesn’t pay the bills). Nico’s school is underfunded, and as they talk over a cup of Amy’s home-roasted coffee, they discuss ways to fundraise for his classroom to get new computers. Why not sell some of Amy’s coffee?
Amy comes out of her shell as she spends time with Nico and eventually he gets her to consider selling her coffee beans as a business – something she wouldn’t have considered if she wasn’t forced to say yes. She also reconnects with her mother – a former alcoholic from whom she’s been estranged – despite her hesitation to get close to the woman who caused her so much pain growing up.
The big, dramatic conflict occurs when Amy is asked to come back to her old job – the office can’t function without her, so she jumps at the chance to climb the corporate ladder again. In doing so, she bails on Nico and the fundraiser, and spills the (coffee) beans that she was only ever doing any this because she was forced to say yes. (Nico, who is truly hurt, essentially gives Amy the Rachael Leigh Cook “Am I a bet?!” line from She’s All That as a result.) But going back to her old job doesn’t feel right, so Amy quits, and decides that the detour her life needed this whole time was Nico and this new coffee business.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of? Christmas of Yes is definitely reminiscent of the Jennifer Garner/Edgar Ramirez flick Yes Day on Netflix, about parents who give in and say yes to their kids and see what happens, and You Can’t Say No, about a couple who tries to save their marriage by saying yes to one another more.
A Holiday Tradition: Amy and her brother throw an Ugly Christmas Sweater party to get in the holiday spirit.
Does the Title Make Any Sense?: It does, Amy is persuaded to say yes for two weeks before Christmas, and the road that takes her on is the biggest gift of all.
Our Take: Even though it’s obvious from the get-go that Amy’s Christmas of yes is destined to open up new doors, professionally and romantically, the supporting cast and the nuanced b-stories (and the ample digs at improv) all do a great job rounding out the film.
After watching so many holiday romance movies, you start to look for the things that set them apart – what makes one Christmas-themed romance good, or another one terrible? A lot has to do with the talents of the cast, and thankfully everyone here pulls their weight, but it’s also important that there’s more to it than just two characters figuring out they like each other.
In Christmas of Yes, Amy is at a point in her life where there’s a lot at stake in many ways, and she’s forced to examine a lot of hurt and trauma, as well as own up to her inflexibility. She’s put up a wall that slowly, but realistically, is forced to come down over the course of the film, and the film gives equal weight to every aspect of her life, not just whether or not she gets the guy in the end, a welcome change to so many single-minded films where the end goal is kissing under the mistletoe as the credits roll.
Parting Shot: On Christmas morning, Amy opens presents with her brother, his husband, her mother, and Nico. “Who says yes to more coffee?” Amy asks the group, and they all toast.
Performance Worth Watching: Ian Collins and Louis Lay are great as Phil and Jacques as they try to help Amy embrace her spontaneous side, basically acting as Amy’s biggest support system but also calling her out on the rigid life plan she’s crafted for herself.
Memorable Dialogue: “You said you wanted a challenge, and I have one for you. Say yes to everything this Christmas!” Amy’s brother dares her. She’s been wondering why his life is so exciting and hers is in shambles, so this is his way of getting her to turn her life around.
Our Call: Say yes to Christmas of Yes and STREAM IT!