“The Wishing Tree,” part of Hallmark Channel’s “The 12 New Movies of Christmas” and “Countdown to Christmas” event, stars Jason Gedrick as English professor Evan Farnsworth.
Farnsworth, struggling to move on with his life after his wife has passed way, works at a prestigious boarding school and agrees to supervise the students who aren’t going home for Christmas.
Well-to-do bad boy Drew (Richard Harmon), shy singer Juliet (Emmalyn Estrada) and geeky Albert (Amitai Marmorstein) make up an unusual combination, but the three become friends after Drew vandalizes the nearby small town’s Wishing Tree when his parents let him down and the other two join in as he volunteers with the Wishing Tree Foundation to make amends.
The Wishing Tree, a bare tree adorned with handwritten notes consisting of the town’s citizens’ greatest holiday wishes, also functions as a fundraiser for needy families, and with Drew, Juliet and Albert’s assistance, it becomes an even more popular and successful benefit for the community.
Prof. Farnsworth, who has negotiated Drew’s volunteering stint in place of a stiffer penalty, is mistakenly zeroed in on by Drew’s mother to be fired.
Although she and her husband neglect their son, she thinks she’s doing what’s best for him by getting rid of a teacher who is actually supportive of him.
With the help of the three students, and theater teacher Clarissa (Erica Cerra), Prof. Farnsworth begins to form a new outlook on life, and his influence on Drew in particular affects the outcome of the dispute over his job.
“The Wishing Tree” is a mellow, amiable selection at the beginning of the holiday viewing season.
– Melissa Hayer
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