Did Merry and Mark’s love story lasso its way around your heart?
It was a cowgirl kind of love story with Mistletoe and Montana, and you know what?
It’s nice that they’ve been switching things up with the locations of these films. Cowgirls and ranchers need love, too, and the trend of appreciation for places like Montana (thanks to shows like Yellowstone) have livened things up from the norm.
Mark, a city slicker software engineer, was the perfect guy to stick on a ranch, so we could giggle at him making a fool of himself.
It’s adorable that he held on so tightly to Paradise from his time spent there as a youth and wanted to relive those days and create memories with his kids. It’s such an unexpected way to spend the holidays. Typically, folks opt for fancy resorts or a ski lodge.
You could tell he wanted Timmy and especially Breanna to disconnect from all of their technology and immerse themselves in a simpler lifestyle of enjoying nature and the people around them.
The film was interesting because there has been an increasing pattern in the holiday film narratives being told from the male perspective.
Here, a lot of what we saw was from Mark’s perspective, so we got to follow along with him as he quickly fell in love with Merry. Or shall we say he fell in love again? He seemed to remember her fondly from when he was a child even though she didn’t recall who he was!
Mark’s pining was top-notch. As the movie progressed, his heart eyes for Merry increased tenfold. It gave you all the warm fuzzies. He spent more time longing for and chasing after any opportunity to be with her than he did working or spending time with his kids.
Not that we didn’t get a lot of precious family moments. With Mark, his kids, and the nanny being the only family who checked into Paradise, it meant they could have one-on-one focus and plenty of group shots.
The fun ranch activities made you long for another time when the ranch was bustling with more people.
But fortunately, Timmy had the excitement of 100 kids, and he was the cutest prancing around in his Christmas cowboy boots and hat, roping and having a good time.
The ranch lifestyle suited him well from the beginning. It was Breanna who took a bit longer to warm up to everything.
She was such a typical young teen, unintentionally rude and too caught up in her phone. The moment it died, and she couldn’t find a charger, it freed her to look around and enjoy herself.
Of the many enjoyable aspects of this film, the bond she formed with Stan was the most unexpected and delightful. Sometimes people just click, and Stan managed to get through to Breanna in a way the others hadn’t.
She discovered a new hobby, and he nurtured her photography in such a sweet manner. The grandpa vibes were so strong.
It’s rare you see that type of background dynamic in these films as they typically focus on B and C romances, but this movie had the sweet Breanna/Stan dynamic and two secondary romances too.
Jasper was as instantly smitten with Debbie as Mark was with Merry. They were a lovely pair, and Jasper deserves credit for prodding her and making his feelings and position known.
Mark could’ve taken some lessons from Jasper. It seemed everyone saw how gone he was for Merry, and it took Breanna, Stan, and others plotting and pushing to get the two to make their feelings known.
Mark had a few nervy moments when he was pretty forward with Merry and his intentions. Their competitive spirits usually had Mark at his most bold and were some of the cutest moments of the film. Mark could match Merry in wanting to impress and win even if he wasn’t exactly successful at most of his outdoorsy, ranch endeavors.
He couldn’t master riding El Jefe or roping, but he was impressive in archery. They were some of the lightest moments for the pair, and that’s when you knew they were made for one another.
But just as he was sincerely making moves under the stars and telling her how beautiful she was, he’d pull back when things were moving along.
He was right to apologize for sending her mixed signals. It was a bit confusing, but it was sometimes difficult to assess how Merry felt about Mark, too.
It wasn’t until that near kiss in the barn during that squall that Merry bared her heart a bit and regretted it. Mark’s back and forth, hot and cold behavior was too much for her to take, and understandably so.
You could tell she was a woman who guarded her heart, and every time she was on the verge of letting Mark inside with no pretenses, he’d pull away from her.
Of course, she was putting the horse ahead of the buggy when she immediately started thinking about their future and all the reasons it wouldn’t work.
Merry didn’t want to leave Montana or Paradise, and I respect a woman who knows what she wants and what she’s not willing to sacrifice. It easily could’ve been one of those things where she followed a guy to Los Angeles for love even when it wasn’t something that suited her.
But she jumped the gun and almost shut the door on what was meant to be by not considering a conversation with Mark. Thank goodness her father was there to talk some sense into her a bit and be such the loving, supportive dad.
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that Stan and the kids orchestrated a plan to pair Merry and Mark up and make them see the light.
I loved that Mark talked things over with his kids, and they were the ones who wanted to stick around Montana. They found something akin to home there and a feeling of peace they didn’t have before. And they both loved Merry to bits.
They grew attached to the little family at Paradise, and they also loved how happy their father was for the first time in ages. His face lit up every time he was in the vicinity of Merry.
Beautiful Merry truly lived up to the name her mother gave her in that sense.
Mark put Merry at ease, reassuring her that he and his children were willing and happy to relocate for her. She was so used to doing everything for everyone else and being the person who looked after herself that it must have been overwhelming to have someone make such a sacrifice because of their feelings for her.
The allure of Montana is carried throughout the film, so it never felt as if Mark and the kids were settling for something out of the norm so Mark and Merry could be happy.
And this movie understood the value of a time jump. I appreciated that the film could be hopeful and full of love, merriment, and wholesomeness, but it still felt realistic, too.
Merry and Mark didn’t proclaim their undying love and devotion to one another after a week, and neither did Jasper and Debbie. We learned that those relationships had time to grow and blossom before they jumped into an instant marriage. And Jasper and Debbie still beat Merry and Mark down the aisle, although their day was coming.
Mistletoe in Montana was a little slice of happiness and wholesomeness. It had such a genuine charm to it, and while they spent most of their time on the ranch itself, Montana still felt like its own character. The cast was so delightful. Everyone had such warmth and got along with such easy chemistry.
It was beyond refreshing to have a native character; you never see that in these films, and it was another thing that provided that Montanan authenticity.
Melissa Joan Hart and Duane Henry had good chemistry, and Hart keeps proving time and again why she’s one of the Queens of Christmas movies.
I love that she often produces them herself, and there’s this personal element and care that she brings to each film that shows how much she enjoys them and spreading the cheer with her work.
The diversity of these films is most enjoyable, not just in regards to the multiracial casts and romances, and so forth, though obviously, that’s noteworthy, but the diverse concepts, execution, and vibes of them.
Campy, cheesy Christmas movies are half the fun, but it’s nice that we have these grounded, heartfelt, sweet ones like this, too! It’s something for everyone and every mood, which makes you value the films.
Mistletoe in Montana is a prime example of that. So, do you think they’d give us a sequel?
Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics. Did you love this film? Hit the comments.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.