Summer is an architect and a single mother who is busy busy busy. She is all about fixing things, control, rules, and organization. She doesn’t have time for a serious relationship, and plus she just hasn’t felt that “spark” yet. She is kind of forced to take her hippy-dippy mother in, (Marlo Thomas) when her lover leaves town and sells the house she has been living in.
Her mother, Vivian, is the exact opposite of Summer. She believes in living in the moment and letting “the universe” guide her life. Plans Schmlans. Because of her lifelong irresponsibility, she is in a financial mess, without enough money to live on. Luckily, Summer and her other daughter, April, provide a safety net. But to my irritation, that does not stop her from nagging Summer about her overly planned-out life which has stopped her from living freely, finding love, and stopping to smell the roses. All while living in Summer’s home, on her dime, one step away from homelessness. At one point, she complains, “I didn’t ask you to be my keeper!” In my mind, she should have been humbly grateful and refrained from criticizing the work ethos that enabled Summer to help her. She certainly was not in any position to give Summer advice. She moves out. But where does she go? To her other daughter’s house!
The irony is that Summer is the way she is because of Vivian’s unstable parenting. It is revealed that 16-year-old Summer had to go to the bank and set up a payment plan after 6 months of living without electricity because Vivian just couldn’t be bothered to pay the bills after her husband died. That was heartbreaking. Throughout most of the movie, Vivian thinks she is some kind of wise shaman with all of the answers, which was far far from reality. I was not a fan, especially when Vivian’s refusal to discuss her financial situation combined with her defense of her lifestyle brought Summer to tears of frustration. Alison Sweeney is a really good actress.
The main story is about how the two women learn from each other and learn to find a happy medium. The always charming Luke Macfarlane provides the love interest and he has great chemistry with Alison Sweeney, which, TBH, I was kind of surprised about.
Their happy ending, and to a lesser extent, the rapprochement between Summer and Vivian is guided by the Magical Christmas Village that Vivian sets up at Summer’s house. Summer’s daughter starts to move the figurines around and soon figures out that she is also guiding the footsteps of people in real life as she does so. It was a cute concept if you don’t think about it too hard. This was pretty good, despite the fact that I hated Vivian’s guts through most of it.