Baking All the Way fits in with the company of schmaltzy holiday flicks, but the cast’s genuine charm elevates this festive flick.
Musician Cory Lee (Degrassi: The Next Generation) plays Julia Wilson, a respected pastry chef who is putting the finishing touches on her cookbook. Despite pressure from her publisher, Wilson has one last idea for her book – to include the very best gingerbread recipe she can find. Finding the winning baker after a firm deadline for her book, Wilson finds herself in Wisconsin trying to convince modest baker Kris (Murdoch Mysteries’ Yannick Bisson, who also directed this movie) to contribute to her project.
When I interviewed Lee, I mentioned that Christmas movies can sometimes have so much optimism and cheer that it almost falls into self-parody. I initially had the same reservations about Baking All the Way’s hackneyed premise that begins with a hunt for the perfect gingerbread and initiates a romantic connection between Julia and Kris. Did I also mention Kris is a widower and a single father to a precocious daughter (Bianca Sas)? Screenwriter Courtney McAllister doesn’t draw attention to the rote silliness, which makes the story sincere but also bafflingly unaware of itself. Bisson’s direction is also standard issue of this type of festive fare, which further places the movie in this awkward position.
However, Baking All the Way is redeemed by its cast. Given that Bisson is primarily an actor (also seen in A Perfect Plan and Another WolfCop), he may have placed more attention to the comfort of his performers. The positive attitudes on screen are infectious, which also benefits the friendly humour in McAllister’s script. Lee’s wholesomeness is delightful, Bisson’s bashfulness is sweet, and the owners of the bed and breakfast where Julia is staying bring extra warmth to the movie. The B&B owners are played by real-life comic couple Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie, who play off each other so well. With Mochrie’s supporting role in this movie and Canadian Strain, the funnyman is showing a tender side of him that I hope we continue to see more of.
Baking All the Way isn’t going to convert naysayers who find these movies too cheesy to handle. But, audiences who are always looking to indulge in this “holly-jolly season” and films of its ilk will most likely enjoy Baking All the Way.
Baking All the Way hits select theatres (for one-night-only) on Monday, December 5.
The film receives its broadcast premiere on Super Channel on Saturday, December 10.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie