What we have here is a story about an elf at the North Pole who becomes disillusioned with her job. She feels that there must be more out there. She has lost some of the Christmas spirit because she’s always making toys, but never really gets to see the lives she touches. Santa takes notice and decides to send her on a mission. There is a family who runs a Christmas store. They too have begun to loose the Christmas spirit. They are so tied up with the business that they are neglecting their children and look forward to Christmas being over. Santa sends her in to be a nanny for the kids and help them rediscover the Christmas spirit. She helps them to see that they are missing experiencing Christmas themselves by spending it with their children. She also helps them to see the lives they touch through their business that helps other people to celebrate Christmas. In the process, discovering the importance of her work at the North Pole. However, she also meets the uncle of the family who also tries to help people during Christmas, but in a little different way. The uncle and the family are a little on the outs, but she helps to bridge the gap so they can reconnect. She also falls in love with him even though that was against the rules. But since Santa isn’t a bad guy, he of course gives her the choice to become human. Although her passion for the work she does at the North Pole has been rekindled, she decides to become human. She can continue to help people have a Merry Christmas with the uncle whom she has fallen for. In the end, we see the newly extended family under the tree at Christmas as Santa looks on from the North Pole. The end.
Well, that’s not quite how it goes. That would’ve been nice. Instead, add more cliched writing and demonizing of the parents to that story, with less of the Christmas spirit stuff.
This is our elf Christine played by Summer Glau. She is not really disillusioned with her work, but kind of feeling cabin fever for lack of a better term. We get a brief scene to make sure we know the kids of the family aren’t happy, the parents have systematized “traditions”, and that their uncle disapproves. Then Santa sends her on her mission under the name of Christine Prancer.
Of course she gets hired immediately which is good. Unrealistic, but it would have felt like the movie stalling by not keeping things moving along. She encounters the parents issues with Christmas because as the mother puts it, they are “kneecap deep in it”. Understandable, but this won’t ultimately lead to any kind of discovery about taking some pride and enjoyment in what they are doing during Christmas to help people celebrate. They will just say they are going to cut back at work, have some of the employees do some of it, and spend more time with kids. The employee part certainly came as a surprise since everything leading up to that made me think the two parents ran the entire operation themselves.
Then we find out about the origin of the store. It was a family thing they used to do that ultimately expanded into a business. Again, this movie doesn’t do anything with this. They just have them cut back on work hours and spend more time with the kids.
Now the film starts to hit its stride so to speak. She starts to warm up to the uncle who certainly has the Christmas spirit. She starts to clash with the parents. Sometimes because she does sort of overstep her boundaries such as when she and the uncle decorate the home tree which the mother clearly wants to hold onto as a family thing. She feels that her trust has been violated, which it has. They also sneak in a line that hints that they only decorate the tree because they own a Christmas store, but they really don’t do anything with that. And of course she becomes good friends with the children. It ends the way I said, but not with a Christmas spirit thing really going on. Basically, the parents just reconnect with their kids at Christmas time.
It’s all nice and everything, but it’s not really a Christmas story. October Kiss is almost the same thing and takes place at Halloween. There’s really not much of a Christmas spirit rediscovery here. It’s a nanny brings a family together and finds love at the same time story that happens to take place with Christmas characters during the Christmas season. Nothing really wrong with that, but it is cliched and falls back on the old demonize the parents who work thing. The story afforded them the opportunity to bring the Christmas spirit into the story and instead of demonize, help the parents to step back and reevaluate the work they do in a new and more meaningful light.
The acting is fine all around, but I particularly liked Steve Larkin as Santa.
Nothing bad here, but it is nothing special when it could have been. It feels like a missed opportunity.