DVD Release Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Christmas films are pretty much a genre unto themselves, and WWE Studios just had to get into that sweet, sweet seasonal holiday cheer. They teamed up with ABC Family for their first offering into the sub-genre, the 72-minute Christmas Bounty, starring Francia Raisa, former WWE Champion Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, and Will Greenberg.
Raisa stars as Tory Bell, a former bounty hunter from New Jersey now living in Manhattan as an elementary schoolteacher. Tory is engaged to the wealthy James (Greenberg), who knows nothing about her bounty hunter past. When an old enemy named Manucci (Aleks Paunovic) resurfaces and threatens Tory, it’s time to get the band back together and thwart this menace.
Tory has to go back home to get the band back together, so to speak, including her dad Hawk (Michael Hanus), mom Gale (April Telek), cousin Bones (Scott Patey), and ex-boyfriend Mike, AKA “Mikey Muscles” (Mizanin). Of course Tory has to pull this off without James finding anything out about her secret past.
This sets off a sequence of hijinks that are totally predictable, but done well enough for an ABC Family movie. Obviously at 72 minutes (or 90 including commercials on the initial broadcast) experienced director Gil Junger has little time to waste. The action movies briskly, with only as much dialogue as needed punctuating the various action scenes.
Obviously Christmas Bounty is no masterpiece, but presented as a TV movie it holds up well enough. Raisa is perfectly adequate in the lead, and Mizanin fills the basic needs of his part just on natural charisma alone – even if he can’t maintain a Jersey accent all the way through the film. The supporting cast is a bit of a goof troop, but they mostly stay out of the way and let Raisa and Mizanin do the heavy lifting.
For most people, Christmas films are an easy sell, but for a Jew like like me that loathes much-loved holiday offerings like Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, they can be an even harder sell. With its modest goals, scant running time, connection to pro wrestling, and lines that I haven’t heard eleventy billion times, Christmas Bounty manages to actually be a movie I wouldn’t mind sitting through again.