Christmas on the Range
In this timeless holiday classic, Kendall Riley is desperately trying to keep her small ranch afloat against a larger ranch that wants her land. Using an organic style of farming, Kendall has risked it all to save her father’s ranch. As Christmas approaches, a competitor scatters her herd, sabotaging her chances for success. Facing certain ruin, she receives help from an unlikely person—the rival’s son.
When Kendall Riley’s (Erin Cahill) parents passed away, all she was left with is their struggling cattle ranch and a dream to keep it alive. Her love for the land, passion for the animals, and devotion to her parents’ memory are evident from the start. However, all her attempts at making Last Chance Ranch a success are dashed by a powerful neighboring rancher, Brick Mccree (A Martinez). When a handsome stranger with a connection to her father shows up, Kendall is understandably hesitant to trust. For as long as anyone can remember, the Mccree and Riley families have been at odds, but the tide is soon to turn when Brick’s son, Clint (Nicholas Gonzalez), and ex-wife, Lillian (Lindsay Wagner), return to the ranch in search of healing.
Christmas on the Range is probably the best “made-for-TV” type movie I’ve seen in a while. The acting is superb, the story and writing is top-notch and the production is beautiful and thoughtful. The entire cast does a phenomenal job of drawing you into this Romeo-and-Juliet-set-on-a-cattle-ranch vibe, without being too cheesy or predictable. It’s a lovely story which jams a lot of very thoughtful character development into its compact 1 1/2-hour package. Every character is given room to arc and shine, even down to the supporting characters’ subplots. This is a fully rounded film that is an immense pleasure to watch. We see Kendall, a strong but not impervious female lead, fighting for her ranch and her family’s legacy; Clint, a sort of reverse prodigal son, returning home to make things right with his father; his mother, Lillian, a woman deeply hurt but still in love with her estranged husband, and finally, Brick, our villain, whom we may discover is not as evil as we think.
The core themes that are dealt with so tactfully in this film, without being over-dramatic and soap opera-esque, are universal. Integrity, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, honesty and relationships; there’s not much that this simple little film doesn’t cover. This is a great option for families because it’s a Christmas romance that also has a solid storyline, which means it will please a variety of age groups and genders; plus, it’s clean, so no worries for mom and dad. Given the strained family relationships and the questionable ethical behavior, it’s also a good place to start some thoughtful conversation with the kiddos about subjects like gossip, jealousy, and pride.
We award Christmas on the Range the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.