Terry Morrow: ABC movie 'Christmas with Holly' makes everything nice

"Christmas with Holly," is Hallmark Hall of Fame's newest holiday movie, starring Sean Faris and Eloise Mumford. It airs tonight at 9  on WATE Channel 6.

Photo by Erik Heinila, © 2012 HALLMARK/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Christmas with Holly," is Hallmark Hall of Fame's newest holiday movie, starring Sean Faris and Eloise Mumford. It airs tonight at 9 on WATE Channel 6.

If flirting and dimples won Emmys, "Christmas with Holly" would sweep.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame event (9 p.m. today, WATE, Channel 6) is packed with charm and warmth, enough so to heat a chilly house this time of year. It's so lightweight that it practically floats with ease.

Straight-out-of-a-greeting card Sean Faris plays Mark, who is raising first-grader Holly alone after the death of Holly's mother. The sparkle off Mark's teeth is blinding.

After breaking up with his girlfriend, Mark up and moves with Holly back to his hometown, an idyllic community where his even-more-charming brothers live. One is all brains; the other is not. Mark falls somewhere in the middle of that gene pool.

The carefree Mark's trying to rebuild his life, rekindling a teenage-like romance with Maggie (Eloise Mumford), who's uptight, and resuming his coffee-shop career.

As if that's not enough, Holly hasn't said a word since her mother died.

"Holly" has the classic marks of a Hallmark movie — totally non-offensive characters who are sympathetic and sappy to the point of being dreadfully dull.

It's also an audience pleaser, begging to be loved, much like Maggie, who was left at the altar and opens a toy shop (surprise!) in Mark's hometown. In another twist, she's relatively new to the same street corner Mark frequents.

The characters are so likable you have to wonder why they're so lost. Everyone is gorgeous and huggable. There's nary a flaw that would make them outcasts.

Mark and his look-alike brothers talk a lot about what troublemakers they managed to be as boys, but you get the feeling they aren't capable of stirring up much more than dipping a girl's pigtails in an inkwell (yes, I know. That's a very old reference).

Those elements are what make "Holly" (and just about any other Hallmark-laced film) alluring to its audience: The transparency of it all.

"Holly" contains no surprises in the least. You know exactly where it's going and how it plans to get there. It's more fluff than fun — and that can be just fine this time of year.

After all, who needs dourness these days? Such fare has its place, just not around Christmas.

"Holly" can't really claim to be full of hope and faith. It's far too weightless. If anything, it's empty but sunny, just enough so to leave viewers either bored or optimistic.

There are worse ways to spend time staring at your screen these days.

Take it for what it's worth.

Score: HHH (out of five)

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrrowt@knoxville.com.

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