Previews

Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie Preview: Christmas in Conway [VIDEO and PHOTOS]

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

[WARNING: Basic plot spoilers in preview synopsis and photos.]

ABC rolls out is second entry in the Hallmark Hall of Fame series, Christmas in Conway, Sunday night, and it boasts a heck of cast in a movie that has a sweet nod to a plot point from the final season of Everwood. Mary-Louise Parker, Andy Garcia, Mandy Moore, Cheri Oteri, and Riley Smith headline a triple-hanky story about a man determined to recapture a moment of bliss in the short time that his wife has left.

It’s co-written by Stephen P. Lindsey, who penned Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, so I expected it to kill me, but it didn’t. It’s nowhere near as maudlin as it could have been in the wrong hands. Instead, it’s a sweetly matter-of-fact story of a man looking for something to do with himself in a time of unbelievable grief while giving his wife one last gift.

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

The plot comes together around a young hospice nurse, Natalie (Moore), who’s assigned to help Duncan and Suzy Mayor (Garcia and Parker) when Suzy decides to forgo a last round of chemo to die at home.  Suzy’s a former teacher and she’s resigned that death is looming but it hasn’t snuffed the spark of her personality and she enjoys an easy friendship with Natalie. Duncan is just angry. He doesn’t want Natalie’s help but Natalie stands her ground.

When Suzy reminisces with Duncan about how and where he proposed, it sets Duncan off on a mission to give Suzy that happiness one more time. Against his better judgment, he turns to one of Suzy’s former students, Tommy, for help. And when Tommy also starts to bond with Natalie, Suzy’s thrilled.

Moore is very good as the rock in the middle of  hard situation, and it’s an interesting twist to watch her play the other side of the story from her role as Jamie in A Walk to Remember. Fans of that beloved film will be tickled that they shot this is Wilmington, North Carolina, where A Walk to Remember was filmed all those years ago, and there’s even one scene that’s sweetly reminiscent of Jamie and Landon’s first date.

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

Garcia and Parker are great as always and I was wracking my brain if they’d worked together before because the have such a lovely vibe together. Oteri plays the meddling next door neighbor who’s determined to torpedo Duncan’s project because of a longstanding feud until she realizes the gravity of it. Smith hits the jackpot for scene work–getting to do three really strong moments–one each with Moore, Parker, and Garcia.

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

Photo Credit: Erik Heinila Hallmark/ABC

I love that Parker is making a return to to the Hallmark shingle (she did Cupid and Cate, which actually airs after this over on Hallmark Channel on Sunday night, several years ago). And I can get sucked into A Walk to Remember on a dime, so I’m happy to see Moore back in front of the camera as well.

Christmas in Conway premieres Sunday night at 9/8c on ABC and then will re-air on Hallmark Channel in December.

Here’s a sneak peek:

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