‘Christmas With Felicity’ showcases Chicago suburbs as gorgeous winter wonderlands
Charming AMC+ movie tells a story that’s entirely predictable, and we don’t care.
If you’re looking for something as sweet as a sugar cookie covered in red-and-green sprinkles and straight out of the Hallmark/Lifetime playbook, welcome to “Christmas with Felicity,” streaming on AMC+. This is a sentimental, utterly predictable and thoroughly charming confection from Jack C. Newell (head of TV, film & digital for Second City), featuring a myriad of gifted local actors delivering warm and witty performances against the backdrop of wintry locales that look like the inside of a snow globe.
With a look and comedic style that brings to mind Helen Hunt meets Elisabeth Shue, the wonderful Sarah Brooks (“Chicago Med”) plays the title character, who in the course of six months has ended her engagement and has seen her Chicago bakery business go bankrupt. (Shades of “Bridesmaids”!) Making matters worse, the holiday season has arrived, and as Felicity tells anyone who will listen, she hates Christmas, with all its optimism and good will and cups of cheer. Making matters even WORSE, Felicity has little choice but to accept the offer from her Christmas-loving, always upbeat sister Grace (Khaki Pixley) to return to her quaint, old-fashioned hometown of Aspen Grove, Wisconsin, so she can earn enough money working for Grace’s husband Don (Jimmy Chung) until she can get back on her feet.
Historic Downtown Long Grove stands in for the fictional town of Aspen Grove, and the locations shots there (as well as in Glenview, Barrington, Buffalo Grove and Palatine) are simply gorgeous and, well, Christmas-y. With Grace dropping lines such as, “Christmas trees … smell like childhood” while Felicity rolls her eyes even as she finds herself drawn to the handsome and goodhearted local farmer James (Herb Porter), we know exactly where this story is going and we don’t care, because “Christmas With Felicity” is quite aware of itself and is inviting us to drop our cynicism like Felicity. Like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” all she ever wanted to do was escape this backward town — but things have a funny way of working out. I don’t think this will be Felicity’s last Christmas in good ol’ Aspen Grove. Wouldn’t mind spending some time there myself.