Nats are resting. Hallmark is not
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas
Kids acting: One moppet in a soup kitchen scene.
Watchability: Background noise approved
"Hey it's"! : Big fan of "Breakout Kings"? Love "Skulls 2"? No? Then absolutely no one. Rare for a non-cheapy movie.
This is the rare Christmas movie that actually made me say " that was clever", but before we get to that let's get one thing clear right off the bat. The lead female is BONKERS. 10 years ago a friendquaintance offers her an emergency ride home for Christmas. They get caught in a snowstorm and afraid he won't get her home in time (apparently they have school until Christmas Eve at what I'll call Heathen U), he pulls over to the side of the road and shows her a fun Christmas time. Now I would be pretty mad at the guy for wasting hours building snowmen and riding sleds when I want to get home to my loving family, but such whimsical nonsense is irresistibly charming in these movies. She falls for him but he never comes back to school! Cut to modern day and she hears him on the radio and she's all like "THAT'S THE GUY I LOVE! MY SOULMATE!" It's been a decade, lady. A decade. "Hmm, I remember that guy. Maybe I should look him up" is a fine reaction. "I love him! I need to help him!" is stalker territory. I assume what we didn't see after the movie ends is the uncomfortable scene the next morning where she shows up on his front door in a wedding dress.
Anyway it's easy enough to get past that and once you do the story is allright. He has soured on Christmas. She remembers he loved Christmas and vows to fix that failing. That may seem a bit much, people do have other traits other than "love Chirstmas" that you might want to explore, but then you remember that is literally all she knows about him, so it makes sense. Now the clever part - she starts sending him secret Santa gifts and as he is new in town, his radio station manager tries to use this secret Santa mystery to drum up publicity. The manager calls the local paper to cover it and the paper assigns her to cover the story. So she's covering herself. See clever! (We're talking Hallmark movies here).
You may think "Hey isn't that a big conflict of interest?" Yep. But they address it and deal with it in a way that seems fair to me. So again good for the writer. You don't really have to closely follow the movie from that point to the point when he finds out she's the Secret Santa as it's just a slow steady progression to him getting to the endpoint of loving her and Christmas. But it's a light and easy as opposed to dull. Now if only his dream gift wasn't a girl bike from the early 70s.
I'll give it socks for Christmas. But no socks when you are a kid. Socks when you are an adult and you need socks and hey! These are pretty nice socks.
A Family for Christmas
X(Mas)-Factor: Low - a shoehorned Santa away from none at all
Kids acting: There, necessary, and not terrible
Watchability: I've seen better
"Hey it's"! : A titan of the genre, the woman I affectionally call Lacy Sherbert, Lacey Chabert
Santa's roles in these movies is all over the place. Sometimes he's just like US! Usually those are the "Santa's kids" movie where his son "Chris" or daughter "Holly" blah blah bah. Sometimes he's an integral moral center, sometimes just in need of help. In this movie he's basically an accidental genie. He asks Chabert if she has a Christmas wish and she doesn't answer but maybe kind of thinks of something and suddenly she's in an alternate reality. When she meets up with him in the alternate reality (he's the only one that knows what's going on naturally) he doesn't know why this happened or what exactly she can do to "get back". Basically it was her wish that did it. Jesus, Santa. If you have that kind of power where people can warp time and space by wishing something in their minds while next to you, maybe stay inside more.
Anyway, in the alternate reality she isn't a successful reporter with no ties about to take a big NY job. She's a supermom to 2 girls married to her old boyfriend, who decided not to go to SF for an internship 10 years ago (Hey! Review theme!). The overtone of "Mom" beats "career woman" is very strong here and almost derails the whole movie. She was seemingly a great TV reporter and that carries into her new life where she manages to get a chance at doing the same thing despite being stuck in her small town. At that point her husband almost screams "You want to work at something you loved at one point and are preternaturally good at, instead of stay at home all day taking care of your school aged children while I work!? You goddamn monster." but the movie has him pretty quickly reverse his stance and puts the onus back on her. Would she rather be a mom, or have any sort of career that wouldn't allow her to see your kids all the time. In a Hallmark Christmas movie that's not a choice.
Ah but the kicker. SPOILER! After making said decision she wakes up back in her old life. She runs to Santa again and he's like "we can't change the past only the future" to which she doesn't say "Didn't we just do that? And did you create children out of thin air only to rip them from existence?" but "I should follow my heart not my instincts" or whatever. So to show that she's on the right path now, she seemingly unnecessarily quits her reporter job maybe, then meets up with that ex-boyfriend who had contacted her at the movies start. They go off to have babies and to stop her from working because women raising kids and not having jobs is the true meaning of Christmas.
The movie isn't complete garbage because her family over job choice only existed in a dream and was, if we're being honest, out of nowhere and kind of crazily life altering for dream family. But still it's all but explicit that good women choose mom stuff. Of course when your audience is a millions of moms and a soulless automaton that blogs about baseball, you don't worry about appealing to the automaton.
I give this 3 out of one dozen Christmas cookies made at home by mom because store bought cookies are for people with black, black hearts according to this movie. So maybe 9 out of 12 store bought cookies if you want to look at it that way.