A career-driven workaholic on the fast-track in the advertising world, Holly Nolan (Alicia Witt) has lost touch with the caring, genuine person she once was. But a holiday wish to Santa Claus by her nine-year-old niece sends Holly on a magical quest to rediscover herself – one truth at a time.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: I cannot guarantee that my review will be 100% spoiler-free, but I will do my best to keep those details infiltrating this review. Just proceed with caution if you’re concerned.
Let me say from the beginning this is the most hysterical new film of the holiday season I have seen to date. The story is clever, and the lines are delivered with precise comedic timing. While the film may remind the viewers of other stories they have seen (Liar, Liar), this is a film that will appeal to a wide range of ages while still being festive and completely appropriate.
No doubt I have seen Dan in other works as his resume is quite extensive, but I cannot officially place him. And the Santa Claus outfit doesn’t aid in the recognition process. However, as Santa, he brings a delectably magical quality to the role, and his interactions with Anna (I will review that actress in a moment) are pricelessly adorable. I always think it takes someone special to portray this international symbol of the Yuletide season, and Dan has admittedly brought that enchanted quality to the role.
As the unspoiled Anna, who only desires the best for everyone, Mia is perfectly cast. She is still fairly new to the acting world, and this is the first thing in which I have seen her. I found myself quite impressed by the innocence and capability she brings to this role (in fact she does seem altogether professional in her portrayal–either she is experienced, a natural, or a bit of both), and in many ways, her character is the catalyst for the action that propels the story forward. Let us hope that this is only the beginning of Mia’s journey and far from the end of her potentially promising career.
As Holly’s older sister Rose, Brigid is convincing and stalwart, exactly what she must be. While I may have seen her here and there, I do not recall specifically seeing her as any other character. Notwithstanding, Brigid is the incomparable older and wiser sister, and she plays her part with truth and grace.
At the heart of the story is this couple’s relationship–Holly and Drew. Although I never watched 7th Heaven, my mom recalls George’s role as Officer Kinkirk, and she always admired him. For me, this was the first time I had witnessed George’s talent, and I have to admit I really enjoyed his unpretentious, effortless, and matchless portrayal of the cautious but charming Drew. As his character is initially attracted to the vivacious Holly, her penchant for lying is intensely repellent. But her obvious transformation sincerely resonates with him. And then his pitiable character doesn’t know what to think as she is honest to a fault.
The chemistry between Alicia and George is always harmonious, sincere, and sometimes fraught with apprehension and uncertainty. But regardless, the viewers are always treated to what we have come to expect from Hallmark–romantically and blamelessly luscious chemistry that is never too much but invariably just enough. And these two are so supremely cast that their chemistry is unaffected and credible.
As the ideal foil to George’s Drew, we find seasoned actor (though I have only seen him in a couple of things) Maxwell Caulfield, who stars as Greydon Dupois, the older man who is a potential rival for Holly’s affections. He is utterly charming in his role, and while I will not spoil anything, just be vigilant to watch the drama unfold that his character provides. He is impeccably cast, and at the conclusion of the film, the viewers will probably agree that “honesty is the best policy,” no matter the outcome. His character is essential to teaching this timely lesson as Greydon may have a few tricks up his sleeve that lead to a conclusion that may not be what we expected. I always appreciate it when Hallmark not only adds the unexpected twist, but they also teach a valued, timeless truth in a way that all ages can comprehend.
Alicia is one whom I recognized instantly as I have seen her in some of the most beloved Christmas films in Hallmark’s repertoire (A Merry Mix-Up is a staple in our family). As I glanced through her resume, I discovered that she appeared in Mr. Holland’s Opus, a true favorite of mine, and this even put me more in awe of her talent. She is an actress who has a special charisma about her that just makes the viewers instantly fall in love with her. Even when her character is not acting in a suitable way, Alicia is able to make us embrace her character and always side with her. Sometimes I feel like slapping a character who acts in a such an unbecoming fashion, but with Alicia’s depiction, I never felt that way.
Alicia always interacts with every actor on-screen in such a credible fashion, and her expressions always tell me exactly what her character is thinking. I never question her authenticity, and I am forever on Holly’s side. Alicia has that certain knack about her that makes viewers hope the best for her character in spite of any pitfalls or setbacks along the way. In addition to this, it is her comedic timing that makes the film such a pleasure to watch as she is the principal cast member who leads in that area. All the other actors play off her amazing comedic timing, and she is the reason why I can unequivocally call this the funniest and most entertaining new holiday film I have seen to date. This is a definite must-watch this holiday season, so be sure to check your local listings lest you overlook this holiday gem.
For more information: