Written by: Jennifer Notas Shapiro
You read that right. Mariah Carey has blessed us with her directorial debut! I personally had been clamoring for this for years. “Hey, why hasn’t Mariah Carey ever directed a full-length made-for-tv movie before?” I asked myself while no one was looking. Luckily, I never have to ask myself that question again!
Kristen (Lacey Chabert, naturally) is a widowed mom who has lost her fashion designer job in Los Angeles, and can’t afford the big city life. So she and her daughter move back to her made-up hometown in Ohio, where the two move in to the house where she grew up, which is, of course, absolutely gorgeous in every conceivable way. It’s nice that she’s rich enough to hire people to upkeep a house, but not enough to sell the house and find a temporary job in L.A.
Kristen’s daughter Emily (Fina Strazza) doesn’t want to move, but tough shit, kid — better pack a coat! After a couple days of driving in their nice crossover SUV that could be sold instead of moving 3,000 miles for no reason, they arrive at their destination!
AH! So apparently Aunt Sarah (Kathy Najimy) has been keeping up the family house since Kristen’s been gone! Don’t get used to seeing Aunt Sarah, because she’s in about three scenes in this thing. Here’s one in a diner. No one is going to touch that doughnut, are they?
Kristen and Emily are getting all set up in the house when the love interest shows up in the form of an old high school nerd that Kristen didn’t even know existed, Danny (Brennan Elliott). Other than looking about 15 years older than Kristen, Danny has always been into her. Well, who wouldn’t? Lacey Chabert is a national treasure.
Emily gets a role in the school Christmas play, and Danny starts helping her with an original song she’s writing about Santa bringing her what she wants for Christmas. At the same time, Kristen has volunteered to be the clothing designer for the play.
There are stumbling blocks along the way, including PTA mom Melissa, played by director Mariah Carey! The greatest thing about Melissa is that she’s always in close-ups, and she’s always shot on her right side. Melissa is the bitchy stage mom who tries to lightly sabotage things, and makes for a very faint menace. She seems to grow a heart at the end. Mariah joins the pantheon of soft Hallmark villains.
Anyway, Kristen’s old co-worker from L.A. comes to town and tells her that her clothing line is going into Macys or somewhere, and Kristen is really excited about it, but it means they’ll have to move back to L.A. This clearly causes romantic conflicts between her and Danny.
There are a couple very small subplots in this film as well. One includes the school janitor actually being Santa Claus and helping Emily out in some way, and the other is the song that Danny helps Emily with that basically ends the film….
It’s called “Oh, Santa” and good luck trying to understand the lyrics as the kid sings it. I think I understood “oh” and “Santa.”
The film ends with Danny and Kristen making out, Kristen and Emily ending up staying in Silver Falls, and everyone being happy — even that old bitch Melissa! Merry Christmas, one and all!
Between the extreme close-ups of Mariah Carey’s face, the indecipherable Christmas song, and all the normal Hallmark plots and subplots being checked off properly (Secret Santa, love interest from hometown, snow, extremely non-threatening antagonist, sweet relative, etc.), this is a Hallmark Christmas home run! Don’t miss it.