Christmas Cracker: A Wish For Christmas (2016)
When you watch as many Christmas movies as I do, at this time of year, you start to spot some familiar faces and names. TV movies are a cottage industry, of course, and Christmas TV movies are obviously a Christmas cottage industry. Christie Will, who directed this film, has previously given us a few other festive flicks (with titles such as A Holiday Heist, A Cookie Cutter Christmas, and Becoming Santa). And her leading lady, the lovely Lacey Chabert? She’s made so many of these by now that her paychecks must have an aroma of gingerbread or peppermint candy emanating from them. As well as this one, and one of the titles already mentioned just above, she’s starred in tinsel-covered titles like A Royal Christmas, Family For Christmas, and The Tree That Saved Christmas. Which might make you think that you’re in safe hands.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The fault would seem to lie mainly with writers Helen Frost and Don MacLeod, crafting a script that doesn’t have enough warmth, wit, or even, worst of all, Christmas spirit, despite being set during the yuletide period. The plot sees Chabert playing Sara, a young woman who tends to spend her workdays being taken for granted by both her boss (Jason McKinnon) and her friend (Andrea Brooks). When Santa gives her a wish for Christmas, Sara wishes to be more courageous, which leads to her taking a stand when her boss tries to steal the credit for her latest idea. Impressed, the boss of the company (Paul Greene) decides to take her along with him as they set out to pitch to a major client (Mark Brandon). But will her new-found courage help, or will it lead to more problems in a scenario which may require tact and diplomacy ahead of brutal honesty?
Being predictable isn’t the worst thing for a Christmas TV movie. Nor is resting most of it on the shoulders of a personable lead (and Chabert is certainly always a welcome presence onscreen, as far as I’m concerned). Even being bland isn’t always terrible, as long as you get a couple of rewarding moments to make it worth choosing over something on another channel. But this is worse than that. It’s carelessly thrown together in a way that fails to engage viewers, fails to make the characters worth rooting for (beyond the pre-packaged appeal of Chabert), and fails to create any magical moments in a third act that simply limps along until the end credits mercifully appear.
The sad part is that the opening act is decent enough, it’s fun to see the main character taking a stand against those trying to walk all over her. If more had been done with the central idea then this could have been another fun time-waster. As it is now, it barely rises up to the level of average.
DIRECTOR: CHRISTIE WILL
WRITER: HELEN FROST, DON MACLEOD
STARS: LACEY CHABERT, PAUL GREENE, ANDREA BROOKS, MARK BRANDON
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX