The folks out at Lifetime sent over a copy of Comfort and Joy as part of their surprisingly large slate of Christmas movies, so we’re tucking in, and interestingly enough, this will manage to do something unsettlingly original…for Lifetime, anyway…so brace yourselves, because this should be good.
Comfort and Joy takes what so many Christmas movies before it have done…and then does the exact opposite. Instead of starting out with a mother / housewife / family gal who longs to have all the great creature comforts in life, then suddenly gets them, and discovers that she’d rather have the love of a family like she once knew instead, Comfort and Joy starts us out with the powerful single lady, Jane Berry, who has it all…and then discovers that that life was a dream, and she’s actually been a mother / housewife / family gal all along. And the more time she spends with her new family, the more she likes it. But she can’t quite remember just how she got there…and the more she finds out, the stranger things get.
I have to give Lifetime some credit–I’ve given them plenty of abuse here–they’ve actually done something halfway original here. I never would have thought of taking the old Christmas cliche about “the love of family is so much more important than things” and upending it to show the same basic lesson, just in a different direction. It’s a fairly clever move, and given that I haven’t seen a whole lot of clever moves come out of Lifetime, it turns “fairly clever move” into “epic move of catastrophic brilliance”.
And as strange as things are in this alternate universe, it’s actually rather surprising noticing how many things stay the same. Strange and puzzling phenomena, they just abound out here. The strangest things keep cropping up, and it’s actually interesting to watch Jane try to absorb these new shocks. New shocks will hit Jane semiminutely in this little universe.
Though this risk Lifetime has taken is not without cost: they’ll get better than halfway through the movie and we’ll have no clearer understanding of how Jane got into her alternate universe than we did before she even got there in the first place. By the time the two-thirds mark hits, we still have no clue what’s going on. It’s downright bewildering. But then, this time, it’s not just because Lifetime can’t make a good movie to save its own life, but rather, because the main character spends the entire movie bewildered, and we’re sharing in the confusing experience.
And no, we’ll never found out how Jane slipped into her alternate dimension. But Lifetime buffs won’t care in the slightest, because they’ll be too busy enjoying the funny, romantic fare set before them to notice that the plot’s got more holes than cheesecloth.
The Screenhead Ten Scale, meanwhile, does care about such things but rewards a chance taken, and thus gives the somewhat unique for Lifetime Comfort and Joy a six out of ten for doing a decent job and taking risks, even if they don’t exactly end well.