Sidetracked: A Small Town Contemporary Rom-Com


A small town’s Christmas tradition is on the line. Claire Evans is a miniature train display artist whose grandfather has passed, so it’s fallen on her to make the show go on. She’s not alone in this as the whole town is behind her. All except for James Fordham, a newcomer who takes charge of the town’s energy company. His plans are to get in, cut and slash the company into shape, and get out of town. What he never expects is to find that the citizens of Belkin, Ohio, stick together, and they intend to hold on to their traditions. He also never expects the alluring Claire Evans to step in and take more control over his life than he thought possible.

This Hallmark-style holiday story has all the right elements, setting-wise, to stir the heart. The characterizations, however, sour the eggnog. Claire is a resident, now and again. Most of the time she spends in museums in big cities plying her trade of miniaturist. It’s not clear whether her heart is really grounded in more than the memory of her late grandfather and the few relatives she has left there. James is a classic corporate businessman, specializing in destroying small companies “for the good of the bottom line”. He’s more focused on competing with his cousin than a relationship with Claire, or anything about Belkin. Claire comes across as shallow, and James as unlikeable. The antics of the “prankster citizens” are downright mean. It’s hard to get on board any love story with these players. “Sidetracked” is a solid holiday tale concept - who doesn’t love miniature trains? - but sorely needs a new casting call.

FS Brown