Ray Clouds on Fire (Tim Vahle) has returned from the big city to manage Sky Mountain, a ski resort owned and operated by a Native American tribe, for his father Joe Clouds on Fire (Sam Vlahos). As if an unprecedented lack of snowfall wasn’t a big enough problem to deal with, Ray learns that Stuart O’Malley (M. Emmet Walsh), a grumpy representative from the highly influential Worthington Travel Guide, is heading their way to critique the joint; a visit Ray knows might very well determine if Sky Mountain is to survive or not.
Joe, meanwhile, has been corresponding with a widow for quite some time. Unbeknownst to both father and son, Joe’s widowed pen pal, a beautiful young woman named Christina (MariAna Tosca) is also en route to Sky Mountain, traveling incognito to check Joe out. When, through a series of mishaps, miscommunications, and sheer bad luck, Ray and his staff assume that Christina is the Worthington rep, they leave the grouchy Mr. O’Malley to fend for himself. Further complicating things, Christina assumes that Ray is Joe, leading to a double blind case of mistaken identity.
This well-worn screwball premise was handled best, minus the romantic subplot, in the famous health inspector episode of John Cleese’s classic BBC series “Fawlty Towers.” Yet, what matters in “Christmas in the Clouds” is not so much the premise itself, but the particular spin writer/director Kate Montgomery gives it. She peoples the resort with a nice assortment of quirky guests and engaging staffers — in particular Graham Greene’s portrayal of the lodge’s passive-aggressively militant vegetarian chef — and complements Sky Mountain’s denizens with luscious scenery and enough Holiday hominess and pinewood warmth to make a Hallmark commercial blush.
“Christmas in the Clouds” is the kind of film in which you pretty much know that everything is going to turn out all right in the end. That doesn’t mean, however, that one won’t enjoy watching this warm and fuzzy exercise in escapism in the process.