‘Must Love Christmas’ Writer Says This Holiday Movie Has An Ending Viewers Won’t See Coming

It’s a Christmas movie, but the writer insists that his motivation for creating the movie’s storyline was a character from a 1984 adventure romance film.

“The inspiration for this movie was [the film] Romancing the Stone,’ says Mark Amato who created the holiday film Must Love Christmas.

He explains that the central character in Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder, was, “somebody who was so completely introverted, who just lived in her novels and the occupational hazard that that would create, and [in this movie, I] put [the characters] into essentially a world where, wait a minute, you’re living out the fantasies that you create.”

In Amato’s creation, Must Love Christmas, the story centers around Natalie, a Christmas romance writer who finds herself snowbound in a small town, and involved in an unexpected love triangle with her childhood crush and a determined reporter.

Natalie is played by Liza Lapira, with Neal Bledsoe as Nick and Nathan Witte as Caleb.

Amato gives a few more insights into the story he’s crafted, saying, “Writer’s block is a crippling disorder that haunts every writer, present company included — you sit at a computer and the words aren’t coming. Or worse, they’re coming, they’re just not any good.”

He used this conundrum in the film, having Natalie experience a horrible case of writer’s block and a looming deadline.

To shake things up, Natalie takes a tiny step out of her comfort zone for a quick road trip to the town that inspired her very first Christmas novel and find herself stranded, courtesy of a freak snowstorm.

This is where, stuck in an idyllic small town that looks ripped from the pages of one of Natalie’s books, Amato says, “fiction and real life collide.”

Having himself written several Christmas-themed movies, Amato is cautious with the story he tells, admitting, “there are so many [holiday] tropes that you have to sort of find a way to recycle those and I don’t want to recycle. I get [that] critics say, ‘You see two characters. We know they’re going to be together in the end.’ And I said, ‘but do you know how?’”

Amato says that to make the story really sing, he ‘reserve engineers’ it.

“In my mind I know what I need to do so I go to the first place where they meet. I think, ‘how am I going to dove that tail to the middle and end,’ and that ending completely dictates to me how I’m going to get these two characters to clash.”

Before she signed on to play the lead, Lapira insisted on meeting Amato. “He said, ‘yeah, all she does is write Christmas romance novels. Basically, you’re playing me.’ And I said, ‘sir, it is my honor and my privilege to be you,” she said with a laugh.

But Natalie isn’t exactly like Amato, he explains. “I’m super extroverted so I’m not afraid of getting out of my shell, but [writing] is what I do all day. And every time I do, it’s like, ‘okay, I finished this one. There’s not another Christmas movie to be told. Hey, wait a minute, what if…’”

Lapira gives a a little bit of a tease about what happens in the film, saying that something happens to her character that’s a ‘humiliating public social media thing’ which she believes is very relatable right now. “I feel like that happens every five seconds — someone is embarrassed by something they say and then have to get over that trauma.”

She’s quick to add, “not everybody has two handsome guys to help them get through that trauma, so that was worth it.”

Amid the hordes of Christmas movies and the familiar troupes within those films, Must Love Christmas stands out, says Amato, because, “I guarantee no one is going to be able to predict the ending.”

‘Must Love Christmas’ premieres Sunday, December 11 at 8e/p on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand with Paramount+

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/anneeaston/2022/12/10/must-love-christmas-writer-says-this-holiday-movie-has-an-ending-viewers-wont-see-coming/