12/06/2012 07:17 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2013

Christmas With Holly Is Plot By the Numbers Storytelling

Usually I am a big fan of any movie presented by the "Hallmark Hall of Fame." This series has always been about quality programming and it is usually aimed at the entire family. This year's Christmas entry, however, left me cold. It is a sweet story about a motherless 6-year-old named Holly who lives with her Uncle Mark who has been named her guardian. She has stopped speaking but all those around her know that with the right amount of love she will speak again.

The story also focuses on Maggie (Eloise Mumford), a young woman who is jilted at the altar. In order to heal she decides to relocate to Friday Harbor, Washington. This is a place where she summered in her youth. She purchases a toy store and settles down to get her head back on straight.

Friday Harbor is also the place where Mark Nagle (Sean Faris) comes with his niece Holly (Lucy and Josie Gallina). He already co-owns a coffee shop there and his brother owns a house. Mark asks his brother Scott if he and Holly can rent some rooms from him. Scott agrees and Mark and Holly join Scott and the third brother Alex (Daniel Eric Gold) there.

Of course Maggie and Mark's paths cross, and of course Maggie just adores the adorable Holly. This doesn't sit too well with Mark's current girlfriend Shelby (Alex Paxton-Beesley) who wants Mark all to herself.

As the story plays out, it is just too sweet and too pat in its execution. All of the actors are competent but none are outstanding in their talent. It is pretty much plot by the numbers storytelling. You keep hoping for some twist to come up in the story but nothing ever does. It all plays out predictably and that makes it disappointing.

Maybe if "Hallmark Hall of Fame" didn't have such a rich history of outstanding programming this placid little piece of entertainment might have been more enjoyable, but they have made their name by showing movies like Front of the Class, My Sister's Keeper and Have A Little Faith to name a few. Christmas With Holly does not belong in that group.

Families can still watch this "sweet" movie and enjoy it. It isn't a bad show; just not one that meets "Hallmark Hall of Fame" usual standards of entertainment.

Christmas With Holly airs Sunday, December 9 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Jackie K Cooper