Mistletoe Over Manhattan (2011)

Hallmark Christmas movies don’t tend to be memorable because they’re good. If they are memorable at all, it’s because of something along the lines of “I remember this movie because Mira Sorvino had creepy old age makeup and played Mrs. Claus, who took a trip to Vegas and then ran into cutie bartender Andrew Walker.” See, very memorable, which is more than I can say about Mistletoe Over Manhattan, a film that’s also about a dippy Mrs. Claus who finds herself saving Christmas and having to go to America to do so. This one doesn’t have as wacky a premise and therefore will be wiped from my brain the second I finish writing this review, but that’s not to say it’s horrible movie. In fact, it’s perfectly enjoyable Hallmark fare; you just don’t need to go out of your way to find it.

In this iteration of the Mrs. Claus chronicles, partner Nick (Mairtin O’Carrigan) has lost a step or two. Unable to keep up with 21st century demands, he’s not in a great position to bring Christmas joy to children around the world. The ever attentive Becca Claus (Tedde Moore) fears that Christmas could be cancelled this year, and since the elves aren’t helping much, she intervenes. Her idea is to go back to New York City, where she and her husband once shared a romantic holiday together, and find something that will remind him of the spirit of the season.

I don’t know why the Clauses are always coming to America to solve their Christmas woes. I’d opt for Finland or Canada if I had the choice, but I don’t because this is fake and so America it is. Becca finds that the New York she remembers has changed though. She barely has money to cover a hotel and meals and the department store doormen are rude. She meets a friendly police officer just in time, thereby preventing this movie from becoming a different one entirely.

Joe (Greg Bryk) is going through a divorce from Lucy (Tricia Helfer), and life is miserable for everyone. The former couple are sharing custody of their two kids, dream child Travis (Peter Ducunha) and sullen teen Bailey (Olivia Scriven), but Joe occasionally ducks out on his commitment in order to cover extra shifts for his friends. Meanwhile Lucy has moved on with her boss, Parker (Damon Runyan). The relationship can’t be that great since he wants to move down to Florida and ship the kids off to boarding school, but she doesn’t know this.

Enter Becca, whom Joe quickly hires as their new nanny. If this were a Lifetime movie, she would turn out to be serial killer granny, and indeed, she suggests he exercise a little more caution when hiring the help. This is Hallmark though, so Becca is wonderful, working her magic on the family by showing them the love and stability they’ve been missing. About her only fault is her blind dislike for tofu, which would get her nixed from my home.

The film complements a snowy afternoon in December. It’s calming and low pressure and sometimes funny. Dedicated elf Sparky (Ken Hall) generates a lot of the humor along with a bumbling Santa. I also like the coupling of Bryk and Helfer, relatively new faces amongst the usual stock players. Bryk is a different kind of lead than we’re used to. He’s quieter, not as likely to chuck Christmas trees here and there. Guess that’s what you get when you set stories in the city instead of on someone’s farm.

Released: 2011
Dir: John Bradshaw
Writer: Hilary Hinkle, Linda Engelsiepen, Rickie Castaneda
Cast: Tricia Helfer, Greg Bryk, Tedde Moore, Ken Hall, Mairtin O’Carrigan, Olivia Scriven, Peter Dacunha, Damon Runyan
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2019

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