(director: Janeen Damian; screenwriter: Kirsten Hansen; cinematographer: Graham Robbins; editor: Scott Hill; music: Nathan Lanier; cast: Lindsay Lohan  (Maddie Kelly), Ed Speleers (James Thomas), Ayesha Curry (Heather), Alexander Vlahos (Paul Kennedy), Elizabeth Tan (Emma Taylor), Jacinta Mulcahy (Olivia Kennedy), Dawn Bradfield (Saint Brigid), Jane Seymour (Rosemary Kelly); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Brad Krevoy, Michael Damian; Netflix; 2024)

“I’m not saying it’s a bad film, but I’m also not saying it’s a good one.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The L.A. born Janeen Damian (“Falling For Christmas”) helms this inoffensive, formulaic and charmless rom/com set in Ireland. It’s written by Kirsten Hansen as a whimsical love story, filled with cliches, sappy dialogue and a witless humor. I’m not saying it’s a bad film, but I’m also not saying it’s a good one.

The film’s star is the notorious American actress Lindsay Lohan, who seemed heading in the right direction after experiencing some success in starring roles as a teen in the early 2000s, but after making some poor life choices, choosing bad film roles, and her life becoming messy over bad behavior that’s played out in the media, she was grounded in Hollywood. Now, several years later, the still young star is making a comeback thanks to being in several films since 2022, including Janeen’s debut holiday-themed “Falling For Christmas.”

The American Maddie Kelly (Lindsay Lohan), a book editor based in Manhattan, is shaken when she learns at a book reading that her crush on the author she works for, that she has kept mum about, the popular but full-of-himself Irish author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahosis, Welsh actor), is that he intends to marry her best friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan) in Ireland. She swallows her pride and agrees to be the bridesmaid, when asked.

En route by air from the States to the wedding, with her other bestie, Heather (Ayesha Curry), Maddie meets a handsome Englishman, James Thomas (Ed Speleers). Things start off badly, as they argue at the baggage claim area, as she thinks he took her lost bag. On the ride to the Irish countryside, they are on the same bus but after the ride part company without any goodbyes.

At the ride to the Irish country site where she’s staying while waiting for the wedding, Maddie takes a walk alone and comes upon a “wishing chair,” where a strange woman (Dawn Bradfield), supposedly Saint Brigid, Ireland’s matron saint, encourages her to make a wish. Of course, she wishes to marry Paul, and that magically materializes (if you can believe such malarkey!). In those magical sequences where she appears married to Paul, she realizes he’s not the right one for her.

On the wedding day, James Thomas, a photographer, shows up to be the official wedding photographer. He fails to remember her from the airport, but they meet and have great chemistry together. Well, I’ll be doggone, Maddie has after-all found her true love.

It might be a comforting story for some romantics (not me, I found it bland and inane), but its beautiful shots of The Irish countryside I think will appeal to many viewers.

REVIEWED ON 3/17/2024  GRADE: C+