‘Finding Mrs. Claus,’ well, it’s that time
Lifetime movie fits snugly in the tradition of silly Christmas flicks
November 29, 2012
We tend to put our critical faculties on hold when attending a Christmas pageant. If the assistant principal or the head of the local community theater wants to try his hand at writing the script this year, why not? If the kids are a little off-key, that's kind of cute, right?
We probably also shouldn't be too critical when watching one of the many romantic-comedy Christmas movies that roll out of the basic-cable factories every December. The amateurish scripts, broad acting, repetitive plots and starring performances by actresses in career holding patterns can be considered a holiday tradition, like the old-fashioned Christmas pantomimes in England.
With that spirit of holiday tolerance and cheer, we can report that Lifetime's movie "Finding Mrs. Claus," starring the Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino, is typical for this sort of production. Airing his Sunday, Dec. 2, at 9 p.m., it's less boring than watching TV with the set turned off, and funnier than looking at the postmarks on the envelopes of your Christmas cards.
Scrooge alert! We're going to start saying what we really think of the movie.
"Finding Mrs. Claus" is too silly and corny for grown-ups and too relationship-driven for children. Its only interesting aspect is seeing Sorvino plug away like the trouper she is. Only at moments does her fixed smile betray signs of desperation.
The plot kicks off when the aged Jessica Claus (Sorvino) gets a letter from a little girl named Hope (Aislyn Watson), whose Christmas wish is that her divorced mother, Noelle (Laura Vandervoort), a concierge at a Las Vegas hotel-casino, find true love.
Neither Hope nor Noelle has realized that Myles (Andrew Walker), a bartender and would-be singer, is perfect for her. This may be because the actors playing Noelle and Myles have no chemistry whatsoever.
Feeling neglected because Santa (Will Sasso), who is called Kris in the movie, has forgotten their 500th anniversary, Jessica goes to Vegas, after using Kris' "twinkle dust" to make herself look younger. Kris follows soon after, looking 40something. He's accompanied by his elf Calvin (Geoff Gustavson), who has always dreamed of gambling in Vegas.
Will Jessica get Noelle and Myles together? Will Kris learn to appreciate Jessica again? Will Kris get back in time to deliver the presents? This last question is particularly important, because this is one of those movies that believe, despite what you may have heard in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," that Christmas without presents isn't Christmas at all.
For two people who know whether everyone in the world has been naughty or nice, the Clauses are surprisingly naïve. Thinking that Jessica is looking for a man for herself, Noelle offers to send her to some "hot singles spots."
"I like it a little chilly," replies Jessica.
After a hotel manager sends "a little ho-ho-ho" to Kris' room, Kris doesn't understand when she asks him if he likes toys.
At those moments, "Finding Mrs. Claus" seems to be striving for satire, but the target of the satire is impossible to discern. The movie is generally straightforward and unironic. Like most romantic fantasies, it relies heavily on those jingling chimes that are used to signal magical moments. In this film, they only underscore its prosaic quality.
The actors don't deserve any blame. Sorvino is sometimes amusing, delivering Jessica's lines in an Upper Midwestern accent that makes her sound a little like Sarah Palin. Sasso, who played Curly in the recent Three Stooges movie, is sweetly likable.
Maybe if we all wish really hard, they'll get a good movie next Christmas.
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