Christmas with the Darlings is a 2020 holiday film originally airing on The Hallmark Channel on November 8, 2020. It stars Katrina Law as Jessica Lew and Carlo Marks as Max Darlington. Also appearing is Steve Bacic as Charles Darlington and Islie Hirvonen, Anthony Bolognese and Madeline Hirvonen as the Darlington nieces and nephews. It was written by Tracy Andreen and directed by Catherine Cyran.
A young executive, Jessica, (Katrina Law) passes her bar exam and is being transferred to another department within the Darlington company. When the CEO of the company (Steve Bacic) needs to leave for a few days, Jessica and Max Darlington (Carlo Marks), the wild and crazy brother of the CEO, step in to take care of the Darlington nieces and nephews who are relocating from Australia to go to a boarding school in Vermont.
Max’s offer to look after the kids is surprising given his past, but there is little choice so Jessica agrees to babysit “all of them” until they can go to the boarding school. The kids are slow to warm up to doing to the pair because of what they have been through. Their dad, the other Darlington, passed away suddenly a few years prior and the kids have been uprooted several times before. Slowly, however, they start to trust Max and Jessica.
Throughout the next few days, Jessica is surprised by Max. She has known him for quite some time and she is seeing a whole new side of him. She also learns that Max not only volunteers at a local hospital but also buys puzzles for needy families at Christmas. As Max and Jessica spend more time together, she learns more and more things about Max and he even comes up with an idea to woo a potential business partner into singing with the Worthingtons by suggesting they have a party at the Worthington home.
When everything goes as planned, it turns out to be bad for Max, as his brother is going to send him to Tokyo to oversee the new business deal. Max finally stands up to his brother who then not only allows Max to stay (to Jessica’s delight) but also to enroll the kids in a nearby school rather than sending them to boarding school. Now the whole family – and Jessica – can stay together.
As with any Hallmark film, the plot gets wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end. Marks and Law as Max and Jessica play well together in the film. One would expect Jessica to be the nurturing figure, but Max surprises us and shows us his softer side, including reading The Wizard of Oz to one of the kids as they fall asleep. The kids do an OK job with what they were given, however, are oftentimes distracted by things going on we can’t see, as their eyes flash oftentimes to look someplace other than where they should be.
A secondary character, Zoe, played by Morgana Wyllie also plays well, but the plot of her character secretly in love with the barista Kate feels forced. Likewise, Steve Bacic, while trying to portray strong and confidence, is both overly-reserved and self-absorbed and feels more like a cartoon version of a busy CEO than a real person, which makes his later turning into the good guy not surprising or fell-good.
An ok film with the usual Hallmark holiday movie elements, if you haven’t seen it and are cooped up it might make good viewing, but there are a lot of better holiday movie choices out there.
Christmas with the Darlings is not available for streaming but can be found on The Hallmark Channel throughout the month of December, and possible longer.