This film has got its own THEME SONG, which is how you know it’s the boss.
It’s very snowy and we’re in the shopping centre with TATYANA ALI! Queen of Christmas!
She’s stuck in the lift (another great Christmas film plot device) and she’s NOT happy about it, she’s a Christmas boss lady (and of course, she’s single, duh)
Now the CEO Arlene is here and I recognise the actress as being great, but she too is not happy, because there is a new shopping centre opening that might be about to steal their business. So they need to put the rent up for shops, but Tatyana doesn’t think that’s a good idea, because their loyal clients won’t be able to afford it, so we know she’s not totally without heart.
Here’s a man. Is he going to be THE man? By which I mean, is Tatyana going to fall in love with him, basically? I can’t believe he is? But he does have some tragedy, and he’s working in his Auntie Patty’s toy shop in the shopping centre (which is empty, despite it being Christmas, because everyone is shopping online) so he is going to make some improvements to the shop.
There’s some very nice fake snow outside, and now Patty Toy Shop Man is doing a really crap painting in the street.
Tatyana’s character’s name is Heather, as we learn when she meets her sister and tells her sister that the guy she’s just been on a blind date with was a dud. When Heather leaves there’s an eye roll between the sister and her husband. These singles! They don’t know!
Heather goes to get a hot chocolate and Patty Toy Shop Man is there ordering one as well. But Heather is getting two (one for her, one for her niece, you see) and he says, “OH FOR YOUR BOYFRIEND?” which tbh is a bit much for someone you have never even said hello to before?
And then her sister says she needs to date Patty Toy Shop Man, based on one three-second interaction at a hot chocolate stall, god bless this film.
Now it’s the evening, and we are at Patty Toy Shop Man’s house, looking at his terrible paintings while he drinks his hot chocolate, which seems utterly mad given he bought it a long time ago, and I GUESSED IT, YOU GUESSED IT – he’s painting Heather into his terrible painting, which is really really weird and in real life, would be the back story to something horrific.
We’re now learning his life history, of course there’s a break-up. Whoever he broke up with didn’t want to be married to an artist, but I think she really had the inside line on his weird painting.
But OH NO. It’s the next day, and he’s bumped into Heather and poured hot chocolate all over her. I think his name might be Mike? But she’s not waiting around to find out, even though her niece, who she is babysitting, says that he’s cute.
Heather’s parents are here now, and they say she’s rubbish at cooking, which at least means she’s not going to open a bakery. We learn that her own MOTHER bought her an online dating membership, that’d be instant “never talking to again” territory for me.
But what’s this? AMAZING FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR SYMMETRY – GEOFFREY IS PLAYING HER DAD! This is brilliant!
Now the whole family is back and making Heather feel bad about taking her career very seriously when they would rather she just got a boyfriend and shut up. Her niece is listening from behind the door… so we’re going to get a kid matchmaker, you just know it. Oh good…
So after half the film, I learn that Patty Toy Shop Man/Mike’s name is actually Ryan.
Anyway for a boring reason Ryan has to stand in as the Santa in the shopping centre’s grotto. See above pic.
**CUE MONTAGE! Kids asking for stupid stuff and crying!**
And Heather’s niece is totally going to come in – and wish for a boyfriend for her aunt for Christmas. Santa, to his credit, says he doesn’t do boyfriends. But he does, however, learn a load of inside information about Heather, like how much she loves reading A Christmas Carol and how she’s rubbish at cooking.
So does that mean it’s all over for these two before it has even begun?
Well, no, not really. They meet again getting more hot chocolate (with chili? Is that a thing?) and he asks her out and despite her saying no, she gets bullied into it by everyone present.
**CUE ANOTHER MONTAGE!**
This time it’s Heather and Ryan shopping with sister/friend respectively for an outfit for a date, and what I like is, it presents both parties as being dumb-dumbs getting silly about the prospect of a date, rather than just the woman, so well done to this film.
They go to a fancy restaurant, I’ll spare you the details, but afterwards, Heather tells her sister it went well but that it was painful at first. I think the painful bit for me was when he didn’t know what a yule log was, I MEAN.
(side note: does Molly the niece ever go to school?)
Ryan has turned up Heather’s work with some flowers which is a bit much after one date? I think? But tell me if I am wrong. He does colouring with Molly the niece who is at work with Heather because she doesn’t appear to go to school.
And then they go on a weird sort of half-date where they drink hot chocolate outside, and then some people dressed like Victorians just walk past singing Silent Night. I will say one thing, the actor playing Ryan does act awkward very well. And she should probably snog him here, so she does.
**END OF FILM**
Haha no, there’s another half-hour to go.
Ah, what is this? Ryan is worried that he has won Heather’s heart under false pretences, because he used the intel from Molly the niece when she thought he was Santa, and then when they did colouring together.
Plus there’s the “forcing you out of the toy shop by putting up the rent” issue too, I guess? Heather is convinced he’s going to break up with her when he finds out that she’s essentially destroyed his family’s business.
Her mum says tell him the truth, he’ll understand, but I dunnooooo, would you?
So Heather goes to his house for dinner (he’s tried to make a yule log) She looks at his paintings, I hope she doesn’t spot that weird one of her, but she does… and she loves it? Maybe it’ll ALL. BE. FINE.
Except next day, and now he’s found the letter about the rent, and it’s signed by Heather! Did she lie her way into his heart?
And Heather has worked out that Ryan had secret intel about her! Did he lie his way into HER heart? Oh god this is actually awful.
Everyone hates everyone else.
Cue sad Christmas music/Ryan painting badly/Heather reading A Christmas Carol.
You know who I need to see now? Molly the niece. She feels guilty for asking for her aunt to get a boyfriend for Christmas, but Heather tells her it was really kind of her to use her Christmas wish to try to help someone else… which gives Heather an idea!
She will use HER Christmas wish to help try to save the shops at the centre! I didn’t fully understand her idea, but OK, it worked and she’s got a promotion and she can head up operations for the entire western United States, which would be in Seattle – surely she can’t LEAVE?!
Molly is very upset at this possibility. Heather, for her part, looks conflicted by the fireside.
She goes into work on Christmas Eve and turns down the promotion. She says she wants to stay, but with a different job title and a raise, and her boss says “I misjudged you. I thought you were like me, but I was wrong – YOU’RE BETTER!”
So that’s the job sorted, now let’s sort Ryan.
Molly the niece is up to something. She organises with all the shop owners round the centre to create a special display with fake snow and twinkly lights and trees, and then tricks her auntie into coming to the centre with her… and who else… RYAN.
So then it’s all great, there’s a big speech, we are all in love and I am actually quite happy too. Dare I say it, I’m a teeny bit jealous?
They’re under the mistletoe, so that’s a wrap!
This was definitely a step up from the last festive film I watched. Tatyana Ali is very good at these Christmassy roles, and this one defrosted my heart despite my best intentions. Ryan’s character was a bit wet, we could have handled him being less of a stereotype (or could we?), but he came good in the end.
What I liked best was that it was such a rounded supporting cast. You had a lot of actors for whom this can’t have been a hugely taxing role, but that didn’t stop them from doing a great job, and by the end, you really did root for everyone.
Just a pity that this film didn’t feature a letter box that actually doubled up as a portal to the afterlife, but we can’t have everything. If we wanted that, we should just have watched Dear Secret Santa again… ohhh, now THERE’S an idea…
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MONSTERS xoxo