THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS, BUT NOTHING MAJOR. IF YOU WANT NOTHING SPOILED FOR YOU, PLEASE DON'T READ.
I don't have cable TV, so I went to a friend's house to watch "Heaven Sent." I have never watched a Lifetime movie, ever. It's not my thing. Even if I had cable, I wouldn't watch the channel. The one and only reason I watched this film was it's star, Christian Kane. Known more for his action roles (as Eliot Spencer in "Leverage" and currently as Jake Stone on TNT's "The Librarians,")it's always nice to see him play a dramatic and slightly comedic role (he's really good at physical comedy, a gift I hope we get to see more of in future projects.) Christian plays Billy Taylor, and Marley Shelton plays his wife, Maire. Married for 9 years, she wants a divorce, and he doesn't. Maire says a prayer, wanting Billy to let go, and Billy prays that she'll change her mind. Turns out, someone is listening to their prayers. Enter little Taylor (played by newcomer Mallory James Mahoney,) a little girl who decides to take matters into her own hands. She appears at their house, out of nowhere, startling both Billy & Maire. As soon as they realize that only they can see her, they soon learn that she is, in fact, an angel who ran away from Heaven, and she really wants to call them 'mommy & daddy.' (If you're like me, you will have figured out who Taylor really is less than 30 minutes into the movie, but if not, then it'll be a major hankie moment for you.) She uses her charm and even a bit of magic to keep the divorce papers at bay, and to try and get Billy & Maire to re-connect with each other and fall in love again.
This is a formula film, through and through. Slightly hokey in its comedic efforts and a little over the top with the sweet moments, but none of it matters. We get Christian Kane at his best so far, being a doting dad to a little girl who's cuteness rivals that of any child actor I've seen as of late. Perfectly cast as Taylor, Mallory James Mahoney brings a sweetness, innocence, and even a bit of sneakiness to the role. Even at her young age, she is able to convey the wisdom that an angel from Heaven would probably have.
As Maire, Marley Shelton does a good job of portraying a workaholic woman who is all too ready to end her marriage, even though we get glimpses that it may not be what she really wants. She becomes very attached to Taylor and seems to relish acting the part of and being called 'mommy." As Billy, Christian Kane is perfect as the man who desperately wants to save his marriage and who is also trying to keep Christmas alive in his home and his heart, despite the many pitfalls (one literal) along the way. His scenes with Taylor, especially, are among the sweetest.
Director Michael Landon, Jr. does a nice job of conveying a cozy, small town atmosphere in Boulder, Colorado during the holidays. The story moves along at a good pace and doesn't really slack too much, but the scenes with Maire and her co-worker and possible new love Sean Miller (played by Ryan McPartlin) were slightly tedious to watch (but that's just me; if I had my druthers, Christian Kane would be in every single scene in the film.) A little plot twist that most people will see coming a mile away adds to the sappy factor, but it doesn't matter. "Heaven Sent" is a precious film that honestly made me fall in love with Christian Kane all over again (especially in the scene where we hear him singing to Taylor; Kane is an accomplished musician and has a beautiful voice; please check out his music on You Tube, or go to www.christiankane.com to buy his CDs if any are left; his fans, the Kaniacs, make re-stocking Kane merchandise a constant priority.) "Heaven Sent" is a perfect little gem of a film that will get you in the holiday spirit, renew your faith, and turn you into a faithful Kaniac. This one is destined to be a Christmas classic.