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'Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square': Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE is an entertaining, fun musical on Netflix about a small, vibrant, diverse town threatened by a wicked real estate woman. CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE has a powerful, emotional redemptive ending, but focuses more on angels than on Jesus at Christmas.

The movie opens with a fabulous musical number that includes the whole town singing and dancing in the square and looking forward to celebrating Christmas in a few days. Dolly Parton plays a homeless person with a little box on her lap asking for change and sits in the square, while the town sings around her.

Into this Christmas celebration comes Regina Fuller, whose father built the town. She left years ago to become a successful real estate developer in New York City. When she arrives back in town, she moves in to her father’s old house. Soon after her father’s passing, she starts serving all the little businesses around the town square with eviction notices. Regina does not exclude anyone in the eviction notice, including her best friend, who owns the hair and nail salon, and her former boyfriend, Carl, who owns the general store, which has become more of a town memory thrift shop. Finally, she even gives an eviction notice to the pastor of the church, which is located in the center of the square. Her whole goal is to be able to leave the town for good and sell the land to become one of the largest malls in America.

Meanwhile, the church pastor calls a town meeting in the church to help people resist selling to Regina. He and his wife are praying to have their first baby, but it sems impossible.

Back at her family mansion, Regina is confronted by an angel, who was the homeless woman in the square who originally disgusted Regina. Regina has been told by her doctor she has a shadow on her brain, so she thinks the angel is just a delusion as a result of a brain tumor. The angel tells Regina she needs to change, and that the angel is there to help her do just that.

Regina at first ignores the angel, goes to the church where they are singing a musical number about what a mean witch she is and tells them because of their mean song that now they have to get out by Christmas Eve. We find out from the angels that Regina’s assistant is an angel in training who’s failing to get Regina to change.

Regna goes to the bar to get a whiskey and talks to a little girl, Violet, who’s serving her. Violet’s father, who owns the bar, is at the church. Regina and Violet share the fact that they both lost their mothers when they were little girls. Violet tells Regina that the mean woman who owns the town caused her mother’s death because she closed down the pharmacy and her mother had to drive far away to get the medicine. Against her will, Regina is touched by this story, knowing that she was the mean woman.

Surprising twists and turns occur thanks to the angels, and everyone ends up at the church on Christmas Eve, still concerned they will have to leave. Will Regina change and decide to keep the town? Has Regina learned to have compassion and grace?

DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE is overall a fun, enjoyable musical. The last half of the movie is very emotional and will bring tears and joy to many who view it. Much of the music is fun and reminiscent of Broadway musicals. The dancing is extraordinarily good. Several of the plot elements have been featured in previous Dolly Parton movies. One of the introductory musical numbers seems to have a tinge of attraction between two dancers, but this doesn’t appear in the later musical numbers. The movie starts off being anti-business, but recognizes at the end that business with compassion is a blessing. Regrettably, a few characters use the “d” word, the pastor tells a fib, and the movie has some heavy themes. Also, the villain consumes alcohol at several points.

The good news is that God intervenes, the Bible is prominent, Christian allusions abound, and the church is the center of the story, although it is just the angels who are the instruments of change, as reminiscent of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Overall, this is a delightful Christmas movie, which many will enjoy, with a caution for younger children.

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MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become