MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2019, Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon, comes to a close with a review of this 2019 item.
2nd CHANCE FOR CHRISTMAS (2019) – (Special thanks to Balladeer’s Blog reader Lee Ann for recommending this Carol to me.)
Directed by Christopher Ray, this is an adaptation of the Dickens classic and sets the story in the present-day. The Scrooge stand-in is a Country Western singer named Chance Love (Brittany Underwood). My fellow Carol enthusiasts will immediately be put in mind of A Diva’s Christmas Carol, reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog.
2nd Chance For Christmas shrewdly stakes out its own territory so that it stands out from the Vanessa Williams flick about a pop starlet named Ebony Williams. In addition the film shrewdly used a numerical designation for the first word in the title rather than spelling out “Second” ensuring it will be listed ahead of movies whose titles begin with any letters at all.
Brittany Underwood does a very good job as Chance, the mean-spirited and selfish singing starlet who abuses everyone around her. Every step of the way Underwood is up to the demands of the storyline and manages her comedic parts well, always the toughest challenge.
In fact nearly all the comedy bits in 2nd Chance For Christmas are well-written and well-executed, so I will avoid any spoilers regarding the jokes so as not to ruin them for first-time viewers.
Taking things beat by beat is when we find things going a little wrong. “Too many Bob Cratchits” would be a glib way of putting it. Chance Love abuses and brow-beats her agent Cory (Jonathan Lipnicki), her accountant Brian (Kristos Andrews) and even snubs the mother (ViviAnn Yee) of a young fan who is sort of a Tiny Tim stand-in. Later on, even that mother’s damn BABYSITTER becomes a Bob Cratchit proxy, since the mother has a hard time paying her and that babysitter has her OWN money problems.
Further watering down the purpose each of these figures are supposed to serve in the story is that “Too many EVERYBODIES” becomes a real problem given the too-crowded cast of supporting players.
Brian the accountant has his own suffering family members, so his hospitalized mother is also a figurative Tiny Tim along with his father who is out of work because he needs to be a caregiver for the mother. Even the agent Cory has his own family members that he’s neglecting while he slaves away for Chance. At least we don’t have to see the chauffeur’s family life. (Probably a deleted scene for the DVD release. I’m kidding!)
We also get too many Charity Collectors, since multiple characters try to convince Chance to donate the money from her hit Christmas song to charity. Just my opinion, but I’d have saved the push to donate the proceeds to charity exclusively for her agent Cory, at least giving him more of a distinct reason for being in the story.
Nephew Fred? Screw having ONE relative to make amends with! This film has Chance refusing to spend Christmas with her mother (Tara Reid … Tara Reid? Is Sharknado Ten filming without her?) AND her father, plus their married couple friends. They couldn’t even throw us Carol geeks a bone and at least have the extra couple be named the Toppers.
Brian also does double-duty as the lost love interest, but like in A Diva’s Christmas Carol, he’s never stopped caring about his Scrooge-like lady love and has faithfully worked for her ever since she dumped him.
We get no Fezziwig counterpart, nor are we shown Ignorance and Want, so on to the spirits:
Marley’s Ghost is replaced with the ghost of Chance’s late rock-star grandfather, Jack Love (Mark McGrath). In an okay touch Jack is chained to his old recording and endorsement and merchandising contracts since the money he was making came to mean everything to him.
The late rock star gives the warning to avoid his fate and informs Chance about the visits she’ll receive from three additional spirits. This ghost’s makeup is a bit too horrific for such a mild Carol adaptation, which really surprised me.
Jim O’Heir portrays the Ghost of Christmas Past, who encounters Chance at a bar in a nice departure from the usual bedside visits from the ghosts. O’Heir smokes a cigar and drinks booze. In fact taking a swallow from his glass is how he transports himself and Chance to each past location he wants her to see.
Mark Christopher Lawrence as the Ghost of Christmas Present also encounters Chance at the bar, where he performs as a spoken-word poet. We first glimpse him trashing Santa Claus in his poetry recitation but to keep things holidayish the ghost later tells Chance that he only did that to roast Santa for dissing him recently.
O’Heir and Lawrence not only weigh about the same but they also have personalities that are WAY too similar, marring the usually fun distinctions among the ghostly visitors. But maybe the filmmakers’ goal was for their ghosts to outweigh all previous ghost actors combined. (It’s a joke. Lighten up.)
Vivica A Fox IS the Ghost of
Really Bad Facelifts Christmas Yet to Come. She, too, rags on Chance in a manner much too similar to the previous two ghosts, making the trio of spirits virtually interchangeable.
I’ll put on my Christmas Carol Geek hat to mention a pet peeve about this adaptation’s depiction of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. She is depicted as literally Death/ The Grim Reaper – and is even listed so in the credits.
That reflects an occasional misunderstanding of this particular spirit. In A Christmas Carol this ghost is shadowy and cloaked because it represents the insubstantial, unknowable future. It’s NOT a Grim Reaper. The only reason that its final vision for Ebenezer Scrooge is his own grave is because Scrooge has been incredibly obtuse about realizing the identity of the unmourned and unmissed figure being mocked.
Anyway, Brittany Underwood does a terrific job of showing Chance Love’s new, reformed personality. The only real failing of the “making amends” portion is that Chance has so many figures to make amends TO.
I was tearing up, though, in the closing moments when Chance sings her hit Christmas song in a hospital. Underwood was spectacular the way her whole performance reflected an inner peace and a loving nature that was missing in her performance of the song at the movie’s opening. (I swear I’m an adult male, it’s just that this story has always moved me since I was a little kid. Plus Brittany’s angelic smile while she sings at the end would melt any heart, no matter how jaded.)
Unfortunately we get a tacked-on return visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present to show Chance the youthful fan relishing her mound of Chance Love merchandise AND the new musical instrument Chance bought for her.
Plus Randy Wayne as Chance’s boyfriend – smug, philandering pop singer Jason Cleaver – does nothing but add to the cast crowding problem. He’s only in the story for Chance to dump the cheating weasel in her “morning after” scenes, which are really done on Christmas Eve in an unnecessary but acceptable change.
Brittany Underwood carries this movie, and we all know that no matter what other virtues a Carol adaptation may have, if Scrooge doesn’t shine it’s almost impossible to overcome that failing. 2nd Chance For Christmas is well worth watching at least once or twice for any Carol fan.
Well, that wraps up another Christmas Carol-A-Thon! Be here the Friday after Thanksgiving when the 2020 edition begins! +++
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/