Producers: Lauren Neustadter and Reese Witherspoon   Director: Daryl Wein   Screenplay: Tamara Chestna   Cast: Zoey Deutch, Kendrick Sampson, Ray Nicholson, Shay Mitchell, Leah Jeffries, Jojo T. Gibbs, Javicia Leslie, Chido Nwokocha, Stephanie Shepherd and Michael Roark   Distributor: Amazon Studios/Prime Video

Grade: C

Daryl Wein’s romantic comedy, based on a 2011 novel by Melissa Hill, is like a Christmas-themed Hallmark movie that’s unaccountably found a home on a streaming service instead.

The couple clearly ordained to wind up together are Rachel (Zoey Deutch) and Ethan (Kendrick Sampson).  She’s the bubbly owner of a NYC bakery, and he’s a widowed teacher/would-be novelist visiting the city with his precocious daughter Daisy (Leah Jeffries).  The problem is that they both are already committed to others, she to long-time live-in boyfriend Gary (Ray Nicholson), an unreliable sort, and he to Vanessa (Shay Mitchell), who’s on her way to join him and Daisy in the Big Apple.

Both men go to Tiffany’s to buy gifts for the women in their lives.  Gary gets Rachel a pair of earrings, while Ethan and Daisy choose a gorgeous engagement ring for his planned proposal to Vanessa.  But as the two leave the store, Gary is hit by a car, and when Ethan helps him before the ambulance arrives, their packages get switched.  Rachel winds up with the ring and Vanessa the earrings.

Trying to correct the mistake, Ethan meets Rachel in the hospital visiting Gary, and the attraction is immediate.  But it takes until the end of the movie before they’re a couple; a coda from a year later shows him proposing.  Rachel has dumped Gary, probably a good idea since their relationship was already fraying.  Vanessa, admitting that Ethan’s desire to move to New York was a deal-breaker, has gone back to L.A.  Whether she kept the earrings is unclear.

The movie looks pretty, with the New York locations nicely shot by Bryce Fortner; it doesn’t have the chintzy soundstage backdrops of a typical Hallmark telefilm.  Casey Brooks has edited the footage down to a trim eighty-seven minutes, a distinct blessing given the flimsiness of the material.  And the score by Jay Lifton and Robert Miller incorporates plenty of holiday songs, mostly of older vintage, that differ from those usually employed in such stuff.

Overall the picture is a bland affair, from the farfetched original premise through a relatively laugh-free midsection to a finale that’s a definition of manufactured sentimentality.  Even with a short running-time, it suffers from numerous dull patches, made worse by Wein’s lifeless direction and limp performances by Sampson, Nicholson and Mitchell.  By contrast Deutch is all bustle and energy, at times exhaustingly so, while Jeffries is incessantly perky; Jojo T. Gibbs adds a note of gruffness as the obligatory tart-tongued friend of Rachel—her partner in the bakery—who comments wryly on her choices.  There’s a nicely brusque cameo from Stephanie Shepherd as the Tiffany’s saleswoman who deals with both men.   

Much is made in the movie about Rachel’s specialty at the bakery—the cornetto, the Italian variant of the croissant, which in many ways is the perfect culinary metaphor for “Something.”  It’s light, airy, and melts away quickly, leaving barely a trace behind.