After I watched The Christmas Gift, I continued to clean out the DVR by watching Last Chance For Christmas. Last Chance for Christmas originally aired on Lifetime on December 6th and it took me a second viewing to realize that, as far as Lifetime holiday movies are concerned, Last Chance For Christmas was actually pretty good.
Annie (Hilarie Burton) lives in a small town in Alaska, along with her daughter Madison (Lola Flanery). Annie owns a reindeer farm, which is her inheritance from her father. The bank is eager to foreclose on her and take the farm away from her. It’s all because Mr. Buckley (who is somewhat inevitably played by Tim Matheson) wants to build a ski resort on her property.
Desperate but still defiant (which is why I liked her), Annie is understandably paranoid when John (Gabriel Hogan) suddenly shows up on her doorstep and says that he needs to borrow one of her reindeer. She assumes that John must be working for either the bank or Mr. Buckley.
Which she doesn’t know is that John’s boss lives up north. For the past 15 years, John has worked for Santa Claus (Derek McGrath). John is in charge of the stables and taking care of Santa’s reindeer. When Prancer cracks a hoof, it’s crisis time at the North Pole. As John explains it, without Prancer, it could take three to four months to deliver all of the presents. John even suggests that they may have to delay Christmas or cancel it altogether…
That’s when Mrs. Claus (Jayne Eastwood) steps forward and announces that, under no circumstances, will Christmas be canceled. As she puts it, the children will get their gifts “by any means necessary.” John is sent into the human world, instructed to track down a replacement reindeer. And he thinks that he’s found one on Annie’s farm.
The problem, of course, is that the reindeer — named Frankie — is Madison’s favorite. As John slowly starts to win Annie’s trust (and as he and Annie fall in love), he realizes that he cannot bring himself to take Frankie away from Madison. However, when he explains this to Mrs. Claus, she tells him that the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few. If John isn’t willing to steal Frankie then maybe Mrs. Claus will have to come do it herself…
And really, the portrayal of Mrs. Claus as being the ruthless head of a crime syndicate was perhaps the best thing about this film. It was so unexpectedly dark and almost cynical. As well, Jayne Eastwood was obviously having a lot of fun playing this very unsentimental version of Mrs. Claus.
Beyond the subversive portrayal of Mrs. Claus, Last Chance For Christmas was a genuinely entertaining film. Hilarie Burton and Gabriel Hogan made for a cute couple, Lola Flanery gave a blessedly non-cutesy performance as Madison, and the snowy scenery was nice to look at. All in all, Last Chance for Christmas is a perfect example of the correct way to do a holiday movie.