Review: ‘Cbs Sunday Movie the Christmas Box’

TX: Older generations will enjoy seeing how well Maureen O'Hara has aged. And the presence of Richard Thomas -- even though he plays the Scrooge -- is further indication we're in Walton territory.

TX: Older generations will enjoy seeing how well Maureen O’Hara has aged. And the presence of Richard Thomas — even though he plays the Scrooge — is further indication we’re in Walton territory.

His character works hard to grow his business, a ski shop in Utah. For the sake of their daughter (Kelsey Mulrooney), his wife (Annette O’Toole) gets them to move out of a cramped apartment and into the mansion of a starched widow (O’Hara), trading a little light housekeeping for free room and board.

Widow and budding entrepreneur do mild battle: He’s obsessed with business and neglects the family while the icy madam remonstrates him in roundabout ways. Thaw in relations occurs in due course.

A box in the attic with a nativity scene is connected to his recurring dream of an angel and to the widow’s secret as everything hinges on the question, “What was the first gift of Christmas?”

Teleplay by Greg Taylor (“Jumanji”) doesn’t shy from overtly religious passages near the end. Based on a bestselling book, it raises the question of whether being a family man and a businessman are mutually exclusive.

Director Cole handles dream sequences and expected demise of one character efficiently enough, though first hour is tediously slow.

Performances are fine all around as Thomas and the regal looking O’Hara are consummate pros. O’Toole does what she can with the quietly discontent wife.

Production is as dour as the material.

Cbs Sunday Movie the Christmas Box

(Sun. (17), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Bonneville Producers Group in association with the Polson Co. Executive producers, Beth Polson, Chris Harding, Michael Green, Allan Henderson; producer, Erica Fox; director, Marcus Cole; writer, Greg Taylor; based on the book by Richard Paul Evans.

Crew

Camera, John C. Newby; editor, Jim Oliver; production designer, Mimi Gramatky; sound, Walt Martin; music, Richard Kendall Gibbs.

Cast

Cast: Richard Thomas, Maureen O'Hara, Annette O'Toole, Kelsey Mulrooney, Robert Curtis-Brown, Michael Ensign, Greg Brouwer, Nicole Forester, Lily Nicksay. The Christmas Box" is billed as a "timeless holiday drama," and it does feel as though time stands still. The traditional story is pretty uneventful, and director Marcus Cole tells it simply, with wholesome results. A lack of genuine conflict softens its Yuletide message of love, making the telepic seem even more like a dry Sunday school lesson.

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