Christmas in Louisiana minus the Southerners.
A Texas magazine writer, Campbell, receives a voicemail out of the blue from her Bio-Dad’s wife, inviting her to come to Louisana to meet and get to know him and her two half-sisters. Loved seeing Moira Kelly of Chaplin and The Cutting Edge fame in the role of the Deadbeat Dad’s loving wife. Campbell is very torn because while she wants to meet her two sisters, her Dad (Bruce Campbell) abandoned her and her mother when she was two years old. With her mom and her stepdad, her family is complete and she has had no interest in having a relationship with a guy with whom she hasn’t had any contact in at least 3 decades. Finally, after seeing an old photo of herself at 2 sitting on the very handsome young Bruce Campbell’s lap, she decides to go, but anonymously. Using her profession as a magazine writer doing an article on Pere Noel, she will get to know her father and his two daughters surreptitiously. Her father has just inherited the title of this cajun version of Santa Claus, which is apparently a big community honor in Louisiana. I don’t know, I confess I’ve never heard of this.
Under the pretext of researching and getting to know “Pere Noel”, she visits the county records department which is run by the town historian and expert. He is very cute, and they like each other. He susses out who she really is immediately as she steals some files on her father from his office. But as she gets to know her father and his family, her heart softens as she learns what a great guy and dedicated family man he is now. She learns how guilty and torn up he is about his past, and that he actually came to see her when she was 8 years old. But when he saw what a happy, perfect family she, her mother, and her husband, her stepfather, made, he slunk away without making contact. After some drama, she finally reveals who she is just in time for a happy Christmas.
Although this was a good premise for an interesting and touching story, it just didn’t entirely work due to the performance of Jaicy Elliot as the daughter. We really needed to empathize with her, or at least like her. She is supposed to be very warm and lovable in the script. At one point the love interest encourages her by saying “Who wouldn’t love you?” And lots of stuff like that. However, the actress made her come across as flat and emotionless at best and downright unpleasant at worst. When some photographers want to do a family picture of Pere Noel and his family, she is told by them to step aside as they only want “family.” This is the big drama. She hadn’t even told her Dad who she was yet, but petulantly stalks away with the intention of leaving without even saying good-bye to her sisters or stepmother with whom she has grown close. It made no sense. I’m not sure what our emotions were supposed to be at this point about her, but I was pretty disgusted. Luckily, thanks to the cute love interest who is head over heels for no discernible reason, she changes her mind for a tender reveal and reconciliation scene on Christmas morning. Bruce Campbell had been writing to Campbell ever since he abandoned her and gives all of the letters to her warning her they are full of sorrow, pain, and regret. Uh, thanks, Dad. Merry Christmas to you too. Maybe they should just move forward?
Finally, as a southerner, I was borderline offended by the lack of southern accents in the cast of characters. This is Louisiana, y’all! It’s called My Southern Family Christmas. But they all sounded like they were from California or Nebraska and didn’t even make an effort. Campbell was born and raised in Texas, but nope, no accent there either. Poor Bruce Campbell made half-hearted attempts off and on, but please. At least he tried! Kinda.