“I’ve been known to allocate inspiration from time to time.”
Carole – a businesswoman, wife, and mother of 2 – wishes she had made a different choice years ago. And to her surprise, that wish is granted by an angel.
But will this new reality be everything Carole expected? It’s the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) movie “Carole’s Christmas” (2019).
Our Review: Carole’s Christmas
Life is shaped by the choices you make. Sometimes it may feel like you’ve made wrong or poor choices – which leads to regret that your life right now somehow isn’t where it’s “supposed to be”.
It’s a simple idea – “if only I had done this instead of that” – and one that has been explored before by other Christmas movies, all the way back to “It’s a Wonderful Life“.
“Carole’s Christmas” is the latest modern take on this. However, the execution of the idea left us wishing for a lot more. It’s pretty dull stuff.
Our biggest issue was that Carole kept needing to have everything explained to her. The concept of “I’m in an alternate reality” never set in. It was frustrating.
She repeatedly asked people if they remembered things (from her real life). Even after learning, multiple times, that everything and everybody is completely different, Carole somehow kept forgetting that this was not her world and nothing was the same.
For example, after learning her daughter isn’t good at basketball in the new reality, Carole can’t seem to make the obvious connection that her daughter was only good at basketball in the real life because they spent so much time together practicing (which they established earlier in the movie).
Carole should fairly quickly realize, “Oh, obviously in this life I didn’t spent enough time helping her.” We call a foul on the writing for dropping the ball here.
Also, the biggest “duh” moment had to be when Carole woke up – this is before Iris the angel explains what’s going on – and assumes that her husband, Marcus, got her a new house and car as early Christmas presents while she was sleeping.
They did a good job setting all the characters up to contrast them in the alternate world. But it sadly transformed from good idea and set up to making it a good movie.
The Nice List
It Looked Great
The Christmas decorations in “Carole’s Christmas” were pretty great. In particular, the community center and Carole’s house looked really nice.
There were also some Christmas activities – they decorated the Christmas tree, worked on toy drive, children’s pageant song, sang xmas songs, planned and had their big xmas eve party,
Plus, there was Iris the angel.
Carole Conquers the Martians
In one scene, right before Iris arrives, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is playing on TV.
This is the second 2019 Christmas movie to feature a clip of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. The other? Lifetime’s “The Road Home for Christmas“.
We liked Jackée Harry as Iris. It was fun they had her as a janitor, on late night TV, and as a car driver. The only part we didn’t like was in the scene where she flashes around to different parts of the room – totally unnecessary.
Carole and Marcus were good together – in their regular life. The rest seemed forced, where Marcus had to act like he didn’t care. Anthony Montgomery seemed to warm of a person to act indifferent and not tell his wife that he loved her. (And if he didn’t love her, why did they snuggle that one morning? Because bad writing!)
The Naughty List
It’s About Time
The way time worked in this movie was a bit confusing. Apparently life kept zooming by while Carole was in her alternate realities.
Because of that, we didn’t get to see the true reality of the pageant performance (we saw an odd alternate reality version with Carole and Travis). And we totally missed out on the family decorating the house for the Christmas party.
Usually, in a movie involving alternate timelines, they bring the main subject back from the alternate reality to contrast the lives.
But here, Carole simply doesn’t remember what happened during the time she was away (though, by the logic set out in the movie, we suppose this is her transitional time, she’ll have the right memories – it’s just us who won’t).
Carole’s Return to the Real World
We were underwhelmed by the writing of her return to her actual life. Her first thing to be grateful for is that she has bills?
Instead of hugging her kids and being grateful, she quizzes the kids if they remember things, such as that Wednesday is pasta night.
Good Music, But Too Repetitive
The song “Up on the Housetop” gets used a bunch of times in “Carole’s Christmas”, both sung by characters and in transitional music multiple times.
While we love the song, it really got overused. And even though it’s Carole’s favorite song, she messes up the lyrics pretty much every time.
Missed Opportunity for a Reunion
Carole gives Kim an ornament, which was enough motivation for Kim to convince the board to get Carole a $2.5 million donation.
We were expecting something else because earlier in the movie, Kim mentioned that she was estranged from her brother.
It might have been a bit more powerful had Carole been able to track down that brother and reunite them, leading to the news that Kim managed to secure the donation.
But as it was, that was a thread that was left hanging by the writing. Now we’ll never know if they ended up reuniting for Christmas.
- In one scene, Iris is driving Carole. Once they arrive, and Carole exists the vehicle, there is clearly nobody in the driver’s seat. Where did Iris go so fast?
- Before Carole’s wish comes true, she goes to bed on the right side of the bed. Every other time in the movie, she wakes up on the left side of the bed. People don’t usually switch sides of bed randomly like that.
- During a scene in the kitchen, when Carole is newly in her alternate reality, a personal assistant device (voiced by Jackee – which was a cute touch) tells Carole that her coffee is ready. That coffee is in a Starbucks-style takeout cup. How did it get there? Magic? How is it “ready” if it was already sitting there when she entered the room? Was it even hot? Who poured it? This would have made more sense if she got a mug out of a coffeemaker.
- If Donovan said yes to a $7.5 million donation, wouldn’t he probably have said yes to $10 million? (This kind of undercut Carole securing the $2.5 million.)
You Might Fall Asleep…
Be careful if you make a wish before watching this movie, you might wake up in a new reality!
The WORST List
The Second Alternate Reality
The second variation of Carole’s life was just a wasted movie segment. We got a rushed, undeveloped life where Marcus is gone.
This lacked depth and felt pointless – plus, it didn’t have any real emotional impact because it basically just reset everything they had just done.
If the point of the story was to show Carole how she had positively impacted others, this one completely failed because none of the storylines/connections were even mentioned.
Also, how did Carole get that life – one where there is no Marcus? There wasn’t even an explanation for what happened to Marcus – did he die in some accident?
The movie also could have been stronger had the mother-in-law suffered more or was maybe bedridden or even gone in the alternate reality – due to her not moving to the retirement community.
Instead, it was basically a case of “you don’t spend any time with me”. This piece of the story needed a bit more work.
If You Liked “Carole’s Christmas” You Might Like:
- A Dream of Christmas
- The Family Man
- Just In Time For Christmas
While “Carole’s Christmas” did an OK job of showing the impact one person can have on others, the poor writing sabotaged what could have been a good movie and makes it very “meh.” “Carole’s Christmas” might be worth watching once, if you have nothing better to do, but we won’t be putting this in our regular Christmas movie rotation.