Starring Francia Raisa, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, Will Greenberg. Directed by Gil Junger. (2013, 73 min).
If you see this disc sitting in a Wal-Mart bin this holiday season, check out the cast (pro-wrestler,“The Miz,” is the most famous face), examine the credits (it’s produced by WWE Studios) and read the plot (the ‘bounty’ in the title applies to bounty hunters, not a holiday of plenty). This obviously ain’t It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s not even Jingle All the Way. A TV movie produced for ABC Family, it’s only a notch above the syrupy holiday sugarfests Hallmark Channel craps out in abundance each year. However, this one does have the added bonus of fistfights, car chases and gunplay, tropes decidedly absent from Miracle on 34th Street.
Francia Raisa plays Tara, a school teacher who’s trying to forget her past while keeping it secret from her fiancée (Will Greenberg), said-past being part of the family business…professional bounty hunting. When a hoodlum she once put-away escapes and vows revenge, she runs back home to her family and, with their help, tries to re-apprehend him. Things get complicated when her fiancee follows her, and an old flame who’s part of the family business (“The Miz”) shows up, who still carries a torch for her.
Hilarity is supposed to ensue, and sometimes it does. Tara’s gung-ho mom and dad (an obvious parody of Dawg, the Bounty Hunter) are amusing, and some of the mafia tropes are chuckle-worthy. But for the most part, Christmas Bounty is a predictable and forgettable made-for-TV flick, loaded with plot holes and probably cranked-out in a couple of weeks. As the marquee name in the cast, “The Miz” is enjoyable enough, but not required to do much more than flash a charming smile and crack a limb or two; it might even disappoint WWE fans that he’s not really the star of this film.
However, Christmas Bounty moves at a brisk pace and, at 73 minutes, doesn’t overextend its welcome. Lovers of holiday film fare will roll their eyes at how dumb it is, both the concept and execution, and it’s likely anyone interested in a film like this already know it isn’t about to replace A Christmas Story as an annual family tradition.
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(OUT OF 5)