With all the hallmarks of, well, a Hallmark movie, this Scottish-set romance stumbles -- despite likable characters -- because of a predictable story and some typecasting.
Viewers of a certain age might be curious about A Castle for Christmas thanks to the pairing of stars Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes. Attractive and charismatic, they both do their best with the material, and some of their flirtatious sparring is cute.
But Elwes in particular is straddled with a poorly-developed character and a laborious accent. Why the production put two England-born Brits in the lead male roles as Scots, with one of them wearing kilts even as he does house chores, is anyone's guess.
Be warned, Scottish viewers: you are once again depicted as merry, folk-dancing, whiskey-drinking, plaid-wearing pub-dwellers. Meanwhile, the arrival of the wealthy American who will bring this village and its castle back to life is played entirely straight.
The Christmas timing is also gratuitous. There's a scene where two characters checking into the inn are given lingering attention. Why? Were they written out of the final film but their intro left in? It's confusing.
Still, there's something refreshing about a silver screen romance starring late middle-aged actors, and the film's locations and folksy music are appealing.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.