Widow Jamie, played by Jennie Garth, is inspired to become a Secret Santa to her town. With a seemingly limitless pocketbook, she successfully provides a Christmas Tree to the town, replenishes the local food bank’s coffers, and provides a needy family with the Christmas of their dreams. Her good works catch the attention of a local anchorman who makes it his business to unmask the do-gooder. Jamie has admired him from afar and is thrilled yet nervous to have gotten his attention. He unsurprisingly is attracted to her as well. Jennie does very well in this. She is warm, amusing, and relatable as a shy older woman getting a second chance at love. Emily Tennant is good as her married daughter, who along with Jamie’s employee, Colleen, figures out their mother and boss is the mysterious Santa. They work together to help Mom in her mission and also to help her avoid exposure.
There were some serious problems with the male lead character played by normally likable Cameron Mathison. Anchorman Scott, like Jamie, has some mysterious source of limitless income. Local anchormen do not make a lot of money. Yet he buys out a whole expensive restaurant in order to dine alone with the winsome Jamie. Given the theme of this movie it seemed wasteful and indulgent given all of the good Christmas causes the money could have been spent on. Second, he is thoroughly taken in by an obvious imposter who falsely confesses to being S. S. He is really a gullible idiot in this scene, compounded by the fact that he is supposed to be a seasoned journalist.
The third strike is his harsh reaction when Jamie finally confesses that she is the Secret Santa. He turns on her on a dime screaming at her “You lied to me!” and acts like a crazy jerk. His change of personality comes out of nowhere, is totally out of character, and is shocking. He even accuses the modest and reticent Jamie of “doing it all for the publicity,” which makes zero sense. To make matters even weirder, the next day he provides a trip to Paris for her daughter’s honeymoon. I mean, why? when he seemingly now feels betrayed by her mother and Emily confessed she was all part of it? (And again, where is all this fundage coming from?) Jamie ends up apologizing and groveling when it should have been the other way around. All of this honestly ruined the integrity of the movie and brought a sweet story way down in my estimation. It would have been at least a “7”
This production was blessed by the good acting on the part of Cameron Mathison and Elizabeth Mitchell. They made a good match, and the story was very romantic. A slow development of their relationship with more than a hint of magic provided by the wonderful Gabrielle Rose. Two strangers, both missing true romantic love in their lives, team up to help a little old lady who lost her Christmas Club money. They give her $40.00, and from then on, magic follows them, and brings them together. It was something a little different from the typical cookie cutter offerings from Hallmark. It had some very imaginative and heartwarming plot points. Elizabeth was a little over-sensitive in parts; a little too fragile, but I guess that was her character. They did not drag the misunderstandings out too long. Probably not a re-watch, but I enjoyed it.
Good Cast and Location Make the Most of this Standard Plot
Unremarkable plot and writing made watchable by the luminous Catherine Bell and her chemistry with another Hallmark regular, Cameron Mathison. 50 year old Ms Bell, who looks 40 at the most, plays her age with an older teen daughter and is paired age appropriately with the male lead. Of course, Hallmark being Hallmark they couldn’t resist casting a 10 years younger actor for Cameron’s rival for her affections. In addition to the big plus of two attractive leads who are also more than competent actors, the beautiful scenery adds to the charm. Most importantly there is an easy rapport between all of the likable cast. They seemed to all be having a good time (and who wouldn’t in beautiful Fiji?) and genuinely like each other. I felt sorry for the poor actress who had to stay in the states and do much of her part on Skype. All in all, a likable entry with few if any cringe-worthy moments from the Hallmark movie assembly line.**7 out of 10 stars**
Appealing Lead Supported by Huge Cast of the Semi-famous.
I have tried to watch this over the years several times, and for some strange reason could not get into it. I have no idea why. It was a funny and sharp rom-com with a charming cast filled with many stars that have since made their mark elsewhere. The charismatic and likable lead is the only one that I was not familiar with. But obviously, it’s a personal problem because she had major roles in Buffy, Angel, and had a continuing role in Veronica Mars, one of my favorite shows. She is an excellent comedienne and actress. She steals every scene she is in, playing a character that many women would relate to with a performance that makes her character even more likable and endearing. No Drama-Queen-itis. So when she finally does lose it, it makes a real impact.
As for the rest of the talented cast, I feel like I should just name them off. Rachel LeFevre from Twilight, Holly Marie Combs of Charmed, Cameron Mathison of Hallmark fame, Zachary Levi of Chuck and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Joshua Malina of In Plain Sight, The Big Bang Theory and others, Yannick Bisson of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and The Murdoch Mysteries, and Yanic Truesdale of The Gilmore Girls. Antonio Sabato Jr. I’ll stop there.
This will definitely be worth a re-watch at some point. It’s not really a romance, more a comedy as the focus is on her career challenges, female friendships, and a series of bad dates and disappointments. The love interest kind of comes out of nowhere, although it is foreshadowed. Any Rom-Com veteran will see it coming a mile away. **8 stars out of 10**
**3 out of 10 stars**I watched this all the way through so that earns it at least 2 stars. but man oh man was this Manny,(Cameron Mathison) though cute, the dumbest detective ever? His whole methodology consisted of A) writing all the of the names of the people in the neighborhood and drawing arrows from one to another and then studying his drawing in bed night after night like it was Holy Writ. B) congregating on the sidewalk with the other Nannies and asking if they’ve seen anything unusual. And C) flirting with the pretty Nanny(Sarah Lancaster) on walks while they are pretending to be sleuths. The perp was entirely obvious, though the motive for the robberies was so dumb, I kept saying to myself “No, It couldn’t be…too lame.” Plot holes a mile wide. The big clue is a pen with the burglars fingerprints on it, yet they just had to match the prints found at the crime scene with the suspects prints on file as he had a previous record. If you are watching this for the romance, forget that too. Not a bit of charm or chemistry. Lazy and lame, the scriptwriter should have been ashamed to take a paycheck for this drivel.