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Previews

Previewing Holiday Road 

Previewing Holiday Road

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Last year, during one of the many holiday season air travel boondoggles, a feel-good story emerged of stranded strangers who took a leap of faith in their fellow (wo)man and pooled together to share a car ride across the country to save their Christmas. At the time, I said out loud that Hallmark would make a movie out of it, and a year later, here we are. And it’s a fun one. Holiday Road, boasting an impressively diverse cast of characters — and actors, including a few familiar faces and one of our faves — premieres Friday night on Hallmark Channel.

Holiday Road

Set a couple of days before Christmas, the film begins with nine people waiting to board a flight from Portland to Denver. As the surrounding flights collectively tick from delayed to cancelled, soon theirs does as well. Separately, there’s been a momentary coffee meet-cute between two of those nine — tech bro Clay (Warren Christie) and adventure writer Dana (Sara Canning).

Holiday Road

Back at the gate, Dana recognizes the shared predicament and tosses out the idea that they share a car. Seven buy in on it, but when they get to rental counter, Clay has procured the last vehicle in the airport — a van. You can see where this is going.

Holiday Road

After some yes and no, back and forth negotiations, the plan is set and Clay agrees to take Dana as well as social media influencer Maya (Princess Davis of Yellowjackets); mother and son duo Trisha (Enid-Raye Adams of Campfire Christmas and several Canadian series) and Ben (Kiefer O’Reilly of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers); married couple Lei {Christmas at the Golden Dragon‘s Sharon Crandall) and and Kai (The Good Doctor‘s Ryan Mah), who are visiting from China; retired exec Dusty (Virgin River‘s Trevor Lerner); and bartender Ember (Brittany Willacy of Chesapeake Shores).

Holiday Road

Over the course of the film, the motley crew start to share and bond, slowly revealing why they’re going to Denver — at first mostly on camera for Maya, for whom everything is a potential post, until she recognizes that being present doesn’t always mean documented. For some, it’s a happy journey, for other, it’s fraught with trauma and angst, and for others it’s still TBD.

Holiday Road

There are of course some hijinks along the way as the 18-hour trip drags out an extra day, and a little romance thrown in the mix, too, for good measure. It’s really well done. Remarkably, everybody gets an opportunity for some character development, so you feel like you know who they are as individuals, which is no small feat for nine speaking roles in a fairly equal ensemble. When Calls the Heart and Virgin River director Martin Wood directs a script by longtime producer-writers Hallmark writers Grant Scharbo & Gina Matthews, who also executive produce their first Hallmark project. Wood and Matthews are pictured above with the cast.

Holiday Road premieres Friday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel and streaming on multiple outlets in the US and W Network in Canada. Here are a couple of sneak peeks.

And a PSA for our Hallmarkies — we’ve been covering Hallmark films since 2014 — 550 and counting, so as you watch this year’s lineup and discover find new-to-you titles, visit our TV Movie Goodness archives. There’s a very good chance we previewed it and/or interviewed someone involved. Thank you for reading!

Photos courtesy of Allister Foster/Hallmark Media; videos courtesy of Hallmark Media.

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