Posted by Andrea
Ah the holidays…Some folks love this time of year—other’s not so much. I’m middle of the road. I love the lights, and the music (with the exception of “Little Drummer Boy” and “Wonderful Christmastime”), and the baking and the smell of fresh-cut trees, etc. And whereas I love all that stuff and more, I despise the fact that everyone forgets how to drive suddenly and how bad traffic gets around this time of year, or how manners seem to be a thing of the past. I hate the commercialism of things. Give me a Charlie Brown tree, please. All it needs is love!
I’ve explained in an earlier post that one of my guilty pleasures is the viewing of cheesy holiday movies on Hallmark, ABC Family, or Lifetime. Like with Christmas, I have a love/hate relationship with these too. The movie I’ve chosen to review this week is not the best, but it’s very far from the worst of what I’ve seen thus far.
Now, if you want crazy cheesy, see Annie Clause is Coming to Town in which Santa’s daughter goes to Los Angeles on a sort of Rumsringa or The Christmas Secret in which Richard Thomas (aka John Boy Walton) finds himself in the North Pole and is sort of held captive by Beau Bridges who looks less like Santa and more like Jerry Garcia. In that movie, John Boy is a nation’s leading expert on flying squirrels and treks to the North Pole in hopes to find evidence of flying reindeer. I remember I made a lot of “moose and squirrel” references while watching this one. And while I wish I had reviewed this movie for you, I didn’t have my computer or any pen/paper handy and could only just laugh at the movie whilst watching. Snarl!!!
Okay, so those are what I didn’t get to review for you. What you are getting instead is a full dose of saccharine goodness with the aftertaste of disappointment. The movie is: Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle.
This made-for-television flick is based on a book which I have not read. I have no idea how faithful the adaptation was to the book if at all. Anyways, this Christmas delight is basically the tale of two lonely souls who haul their emotional baggage around like Jacob Marley does his afterlife chains. Their baggage hauling is interrupted by magical matchmaker (and sometimes housekeeper) Mrs. Miracle played by Doris Roberts from Everybody Loves Raymond fame. Let me elaborate a little more.
James Van Der Beek plays Seth Webster. Seth is a widower who has two adorable, unruly little boys. We don’t know much or actually anything about the mom. All her pictures are gone. Seth doesn’t talk about her, and he’s kind of manic about no one else bringing her up either. My initial thoughts were these: Did he kill her? My god, he killed her. Or maybe she killed herself. Or maybe she left the family and somehow got killed. Or left the family and then killed herself. Left the family, was about to off herself when Beek did the work for her. Hmmm….I’ll keep investigating. or I’ll just watch the movie.
Anyways, Seth has a problem that the Banks’ did in Mary Poppins. He seems unable to keep a nanny in his employ for very long. The kids seem to make it their mission to run the unfortunate ladies off. Katie Nana after Katie Nana quits without notice time and time again.
Our other lonely baggage hauler goes by the name of Reba Maxwell (played by Erin Karpluk) She is busy, busy, busy running the Way To Go Travel Agency. She’s so busy that she almost misses lunch with her mother. Mom spends the entire lunch asking Reba to have Christmas with the family and her sister who we learn wronged Reba back in the day. The mother is upset by this, but keeps pushing Reba on it. I don’t like pushy people, so I’m kind of annoyed at her mom. Apparently this tactic isn’t working in your favor. Rethink your approach, lady.
So anyways, let me connect these two lonely souls. Seth’s kids go to school (as kids do) and are taking part in the Christmas play. The boys’ teacher is friends with Reba. It turns out that Reba has a background in theatre, and it just so happens that the school’s theatre director has done herself an injury at the last rehearsal. Reba has been asked to fill in. Everyone connecting the dots? Good. Moving on.
So, Seth is once again nanny-less. He’s trying to make a business call, cook dinner, and sort of discipline the boys all at the same time. It’s not working. Note: The boys fought over milk of all things and spilled it everywhere. Who fights over milk? Seriously. Right, so Seth sends the boys to play outside (that’ll teach them not to fight!) while he cleans up. Enter Mrs. Miracle (who calls herself Mrs. “Merckle”). She’s ambling up the driveway when the boys see her. They hide and when she’s close enough, they fling snowballs at her—which she totally catches! This is how we know she’s got their number.
So yeah. Mrs. Miracle tells Seth she’s from “the agency” and he totally lets her into his home to watch his children. No call to the agency or anything to check on that. Whatever. She’s brought edible food with her. She’s perfect for this job, really.
From this point on, it’s just a matter of getting these lonely peoples to meet. Mrs. Miracle magically maneuvers a shopping cart to divert Seth’s attention to the travel agency. She also at one point has Reba chase an ornament all over the rehearsal hall. I have no idea what the point was there, but mission accomplished.
When Seth and Reba do meet for the first time, it is cute. He walks into rehearsal, trips and knocks over a table of decorations. Smooth. Whatever. It’s only a matter of time before he’s semi-stalking Reba at her workplace, and then they go on a date or two. Mrs. Miracle also gets sneaky with the special dinners for two she leaves them or the sudden plans to take the boys out leaving our leads to have time to themselves. She even gets Seth to volunteer to help at rehearsals. She’s hell-bent on getting these two together! And by Christmas!
If you don’t know the drill already, the point of these holiday romance movies is to get our characters to meet, fall in love, and sort of be in a committed relationship by Christmas. It doesn’t matter if it’s month or one day before December 25th. That’s the rule of this type of movie. So since that’s noticed, may I say that by date three or four (probably that week) our leads are more or less in that locked in phase. There’s just one problem.
Neither is willing to discuss the horrible emotional baggage each brings along everywhere. At first I was okay with this since they hardly know each other, but as the movie went on, it just seemed futile. Seth has some dark cloud of doom over his wife’s passing. [Yes, it turns our she just died. No dramatic soap opera thing, and no murderous husband or anything. I totally forgot that this was a Hallmark movie—not Lifetime. Silly me!] Meanwhile, Reba won’t get past the whole “my sister done me wrong” issue she’s got going on.
It takes literally almost the entire movie to get these two characters to fess up and get over their issues. I’m so glad they were able to get that out-of-the-way. Meanwhile, the rest of us who watched them dance around their problems got kind of bored, left the room to make some coffee, emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, and then returned with a fresh mug of hot coffee to see if any progress had been made.
I have to say that while I appreciate some semi-realistic family drama situations, the constancy of the ones in Mrs. Miracle totally killed the mood. Mrs. Miracle probably should have worked on that if she knew that any mention of Seth’s wife or Reba’s sister would halt any feel-good fuzzies the movie was tossing my way.
Even those cute kids with their cute Christmas pageant costumes (Mrs. M. makes the boys swords to go with their angel robes. Hee hee) couldn’t save this movie from it’s depressing slumps. I know it could be worse. The whole thing could have just been a feel-good-a-thon. Instead, it felt like there was a nice dark cloud hovering over the entire movie.
Anyways, that’s why I chose this one. It was sappy in places, cute in places, and then just depressing. To her credit, Doris Roberts was great in this. Even when she pulls another Mary Poppins on the boys when its time to go, she had me almost (ALMOST) tearing up a little bit. She looked very cut up about leaving and even shed a few tears as she said goodbye to the boys
She definitely wasn’t this emotional in Call Me Mrs. Miracle in which she saves a department store from closing, helps matchmake a couple, and fix a broken family (all by Christmas!). That movie, I have to say, is the superior of the two.
So…not the best example to use, but it’s the one I had. I don’t make the movies, kids. I just watch them.
Note: I hope to have at least one more cheesy holiday-themed review for you this month and then I think I’ll end the year with an ever-festive doomsday weather flick. Again, if you have any suggestions, please send them my way. Just no more Mrs. Miracle flicks please. I’ve had my fill.