“The Christmas Clause” Movie Review

By Ruth on November 19, 2015 in movie, review
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[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiWA_hCfiZk[/embedyt]

A stressed out lawyer and mother of three gets her Yuletide wish when she wishes to see what her life would be like if she had chosen to pursue her career in Law rather than marrying and becoming a working mother.

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First of all, in keeping with my dedication to full disclosure, there was only one reason I initially watched this film–Rick Ravanello is in it. My friends assured me I would unreservedly enjoy it (and they were right), but I was so distracted by Rick’s performance that I missed some actors I should have recognized (I had to rewatch parts of the film and felt almost mortified as I realized that I didn’t recognize them).  As I researched in preparation for this review, I fell in love with this film even more as I continued to discover actors and actresses that I had reviewed previously in other wonderful works. I have declared this a film with an all-star cast, and it is positively an honor to be reviewing a film with this caliber of talent, and I can only hope and pray that I do it justice. I will do endeavor to not reveal any potential spoilers per my normal policy.

Doug Abrahams as Santa Claus

Doug Abrahams as Santa Claus

When I saw “Santa Claus” in this film, I knew he looked and sounded familiar, but I just couldn’t recollect where. His  name also jogged my memory, but it wasn’t until I investigated that I discovered I unquestionably remembered him from Driven Underground (I mean, he was Karl’s lawyer, and how could anyone ever forget Rick’s portrayal of that despicable character?). However, the list went on, and I understood that I had seen Doug in multiple film and television shows without even recognizing him. His take on Santa is certainly a bit of a departure in some ways, but it is no doubt a glorious departure. While Santa often grants wishes in Yuletide tales, he is also typically able to guarantee a reversal. Not so with this Santa. He seems oblivious to his own power, and he doesn’t actually appear sympathetic to poor Sophie’s issue at hand.

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Talk about pure genius! His portrayal makes the story work even better as it forces Sophie to discern that her one wish may mean an end once and for all to everything she has ever known. And possibly his “powerlessness” is what may finally give her the resolve needed to ascertain just how wonderful her life was (sounds like another famous holiday movie, doesn’t it?).

Megan Charpentier as Anna

Megan Charpentier as Anna

And this transports us to our next big star. Or little star. Or maybe big little star–well anyway, this is one of the first films that features the wondrous abilities of Megan Charpentier. Postables will know her from the most recent installments of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but her list of appearances is practically endless, and she is not even an adult yet.

mcclause30As a result of her sincere portrayal of one-half of Sophie’s unruly female gang, I was completely captivated. Although her darling smile belies her wild and out-of-control nature, there is no doubt that Anna is a typical youngster who could benefit from some attention from her overworked, overtired mother. Because she is ignored all too often, she does what every child does–seeks attention any way she can get it. It would behoove the viewer to watch out for her and her charming cohort in crime.

Megan as Anna and Carly Washburn as Ella

Megan as Anna and Carly Washburn as Ella

With this duo, Sophie feels as though she is overburdened and wishes them gone. However, she is reminded just how much she adores these little girls (and her son and husband) as the movie spirals at dizzying speeds. I won’t give away the ending, but the writers did use some clever techniques to explain the phenomena in the storyline.

Andrew Francis as the Unconvincing Elf

Andrew Francis as the Unconvincing Elf

Though officially unnamed in this film, I knew I recognized this guy. (Look up my review of Tis the Season For Love.)  Of course, Andrew has a varied career, and if you check out his resume, you will probably recognize at least one thing he has done–probably more. Though his part is meager, he suits it perfectly; so be vigilant lest you miss this adroit actor.

Jill Morrison as Claire

Jill Morrison as Claire

Of course, astute Hearties will identify this actress. Jill Morrison deserves an honorable mention as Claire. Just keep your eyes peeled, and you will notice the accomplished acting of this seasoned professional. No need to tell you she is as excellent as always.

Jennifer Copping as Barbara

Jennifer Copping as Barbara

I am quite ashamed to admit that I did not recognize Jennifer in this role. Not long ago, I had reviewed a recent work of hers, but I was unprepared for her look in this film. When I reviewed the film, I had no problem picking her out right away. It is a small part, but Jennifer is one of those actresses who knows how to give her all to any role, significant or trivial. Her role is memorable, but I was too busy anticipating Rick’s character (well, at least I have a good excuse, right?).

Christina Jastrzembska as Margaret

Christina Jastrzembska as Margaret

Yet another actress I knew I recognized, and I have seen her both on Hallmark and Lifetime. In this role, she is supremely cast as the one who urges Sophie to acknowledge what is essential in life and pursue it. As Margaret, she is remarkable and thoroughly engaging in every detail.

Richard Ian Cox as Morris

Richard Ian Cox as Morris

I kept looking at the character Morris and wondering if I could place the actor. Evidently, I have seen him in a variety of things, but his resume most resonated with my daughter who is an avid My Little Pony fan. When I told her that he is the voice of one of the characters she truly enjoys (Snails), she was completely dumbfounded. In this film, I was spellbound with his depiction of the somewhat snarky assistant to Sophie. It is as though his character views the entire world through sarcasm and ennui–or at least, that is how he views Sophie’s life. He understands what is truly valuable in life, but he just keeps his mouth quiet and gives that wry smile that informs us of more than words ever could. Richard’s character in this film is a veritable delight to witness, and I am pleased to see that a voice actor of his caliber is also just as comfortable (or at least gives that appearance) in front of the screen. That is a sign of true adaptability.

Laura Mennell as Jill

Laura Mennell as Jill (Photo credit)

This one disconcerts me the most. Since seeing her in Stolen From the Womb, I have been a Laura Mennell fan. In this movie, she plays a minute part, but it is relevant. Laura has signature features, and she always does such an impeccable job in whatever role she is handed. And I missed her in the role of Jill! I honestly felt like crawling under a rock for the rest of the evening as I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice one of my favorite actresses. I chose to blame it on two things. First of all, Laura is a consummate master at so becoming her role that the audience forgets she is Laura, and as Jill she did just that. No matter the size of role, she has the knack of immersing herself into her character. Secondly, I was too busy anticipating Rick’s entrance. (You know, if I keep this up, I really will embarrass myself, but oh well–better to be honest than not.)

Lea Thompson as Sophie & Rachel Hayward as Marcia

Lea Thompson as Sophie & Rachel Hayward as Marcia

Amazingly, I had just seen Rachel in Driven Underground, so I remembered her, but didn’t place her until later. She and Lea play off each other quite skillfully in this film. The rest of my family found their antics a bit much, but I thoroughly reveled in their scenes together and the movie as a whole.  Whether Rachel plays the uptown Marcia or the down-home gal, she is believable and an utter treasure to watch. I have to admit that the movie left me wondering about the ultimate fate of her character, but that is a common fault of most films like this. After all, she is not the focus of the film, and at least everything is resolved for Sophie and her family (which should not spoil anything–you knew that, right?).

Andrew Airlie as Dave

Andrew Airlie as Dave

I recognized this actor right off, but again, I couldn’t place him (maybe the guy in back was distracting me–I really need to stop bring that up, don’t I?). When I made the Cedar Cove connection, I knew immediately that he was Olivia’s ex-husband in season one. Now, as Stan, I never was totally a fan of his character. However, as Dave, the powers that be found the ideal role for him.

andrew christmas clauseIn many ways, Andrew has a double role in this film.  He plays the somewhat bumbling husband in the beginning of the film, but in the “fantasy” section, he seems like he has it all together (that is, until Sophie returns to his life and confuses his perfect world). As Dave, Andrew gave the kind of solid and credible performance that I would expect, and he never overshadows Lea. In fact, he is a docile partner to her irrepressible prowess.  As a result of seeing him in a  role that permits him to exhibit his expertise in its best light, I now believe I will find myself more inclined to seek him out in other works.

Lea Thompson as Sophie

Lea Thompson as Sophie

Seeing Lea in the principal role was assuredly a stroke of genius in this film. Every time I watch Lea in any film or television show, I am always flabbergasted at the effortlessness with which she acts. In the world of acting, there is a relatively small retinue of actors who can play any role, anywhere, anytime, and with incredible verisimilitude. It is safe to say that Lea belongs to this select group as no matter her character, she is capable of molding herself into whatever is called for with immeasurable ease.  And that is doubly so in this film. Some may think that Sophie is merely a 2-dimensional character who has no legitimate depth. Furthermore, some would claim anyone could play her equally well.

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I’m afraid I beg to differ. As the harried mom on the one hand and the arrogant socialite on the other, she is equally charming, sparkling, and even pathetic.  Beyond question, it is her expertise that causes me to connect with Sophie.  Lea is able to bring that genuine and sometimes gritty quality to a complex character like this. It’s easy for the audience to sympathize with the Sophie we see at the beginning of the film. What mother has not longed for a life of uncomplicated ease? Or better still, who has not had the thought cross his/her mind, “I wish I could have so-and-so’s life”?

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Furthermore, Lea is able to inject the human qualities into her character once she is living the life of a spoiled vixen.  Whether she is living an enchanted life or not, the audience is fully in her corner. Even as the socialite, I was able to see her genuineness shine forth, and she even engendered sympathy as she realizes that her wish may have permanently cost her the life she once had. In fact, it is her pairing with Rick’s character that demonstrates that though her social position has altered, she and her values have not. In fact, she apprehends promptly that she does not belong where she has been assigned.

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And thus begins Sophie’s quest to return to her former life. Because Lea has portrayed Sophie in such a way that we only want a happy ending for her, it is almost heartbreaking to see all the trials and tribulations she must face in order to possibly regain her old life. The audience is treated to the kind of emotional smorgasbord as only Lea can dish out.  Again, it is her depiction that causes the story to tug the heartstrings of the audience members, and regrettably, for Marcia, Jake, and anyone else who works against her return to her former life, they are somewhat villainized. I didn’t find myself feeling sorry for anyone else but Sophie (even though it is evident that she brought this entire issue down upon her own head).

Rick Ravanello as Jake & Lea Thompson as Sophie

Rick Ravanello as Jake & Lea Thompson as Sophie

As I have been confessing all along, this is the character for which I anxiously awaited. As Jake, Rick has a much different look (and he was younger too), and I almost didn’t recognize him at first. Additionally, his character is unlike anything else I have seen him perform.  I am still new to the world of Rick Ravanello, but from what I can tell, this goofy role was a bit of a departure for him. And yet, according to my observations, he certainly enjoyed the character (I just wish he had more screen time).

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It has been scenes just like this that gave me my first glimpse into this film long before I officially saw it.  For me, Rick’s prowess goes far beyond his physique, and I found this scene one of the most entertaining in the entire film. I know I perused some complaints concerning this scene that were expressed by other reviewers, but honestly, I was not offended. The minimal profanity was more of a disruption for me than the absolute hilarity of this scene and Rick’s character in general.

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Seeing both Rick and Lea on screen together is a feast for the eyes and soul. Rick so immerses himself in this role that even though this is a bit of an uncharacteristic role for him to play, it presents the side of him that exists in abundance in real life. I don’t mean to imply that Rick is a womanizer nor one who pursues women with the kind of sexual fortitude Jake has. I refer to the wacky–and sometimes off-the-wall humor he shares on a regular basis. And in the case of his character Jake, this sense of humor is taken to such an level that is uproarious in the extreme. For the short time that we are treated to the versatility and unbelievable mastery of Rick, we are extremely entertained and blessed. After all, Jake is a one-dimensional character with no depth, but we never question his credibility. Indeed, it would be a welcome treat to see Rick in lighter roles similar to this on more occasions as all too often he is either killing or being killed. That is why this role is such an enigma as dramatic actors cannot always play comedy with such suavity and effervescence. Thankfully in Rick’s case, he is able to do just that with impeccable timing and intense plausibility. And we still are enticed by the phenomenal way that Rick can light up the screen for any period of time in which he is permitted to appear.

In conclusion, The Christmas Clause is an amusing escapade for the holiday season, and I think most of your family will enjoy the funny, but sometimes poignant take on what is truly important in this world.

For more information:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1343029/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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