Grade: C- (that's being generous because Edward Herrmann is in it)
Channel: HallmarkEdward Herrmann is in it and gets to be cranky!
The story: Kristy Swanson's Martha takes her kids (one of which is her boyfriend's son and not her own natural child) out of the trailer park in order to start over somewhere else. She has no job, a car that barely works and no money because her loser boyfriend took it all when he ran off. Nice.
Martha ends up in a small town, checks in at the local cheap-o motel, and lands a temporary job at the local diner. The diner is suffering from a poor economy so the owner, Trudy (played by Tess Harper), can't promise long employment. There are regulars at the diner including a sweet cop (there are swoony eyes but baggage) and a cranky old man (the aforementioned Herrmann). She builds relationships with the locals and her co-workers and would love to establish a life there. Martha asks about the history of the diner and Trudy gives her a show-and-tell of the root beer they used to bottle. It's what made the place special. Gee I wonder if the root beer will come up again.
A side note on how perceptive my father is: I watched this over Thanksgiving with my parents and my dad said, "They should have called it A Root Beer Christmas." He's a smart dude because at one point that was the title. Towards the end he also said, "This feels like a pastor wrote it." Indeed there was a healthy dose of Jesus being the reason for the season and lessons on grace and forgiveness in it. Not too far off, Dad. The writer/director, Craig Clyde, is a member of the Mormon church and makes lots of these kinds of movies.
Back to the movie...Martha's ex shows up and wants his son back even though he'll surely abandon him again. The son goes with him but Martha and her two daughters don't want him to go. He changes his mind at the last minute and surprises them back at the motel. Then the townspeople all chip in and pay her first month's rent in a house that's owned by the cop's ex-girlfriend. Oh and the other waitress and cranky Edward Herrmann chip in together to buy the diner and plan on trying the root beer business again. So all is well.
There were a lot of contrived situations and the acting was so-so, especially from the kids. However there were some cute things too (they draw a tree on the wall of the motel because they can't afford to buy one).