The lovely Jewel Staite plays Holly, a woman caring for her nephew Gabe while her brother is deployed overseas. It’s…a challenge. She’s the hard-working marketing guru treated more like an assistant by her dress designer boss (Lauren Holly, for some reason). Holly’s got dreams of designing her own gowns but so far her boss isn’t biting.
Meanwhile, over in Manhattan, Jake (Eric Johnson) is struggling to impress his father at their family-owned department store. His father is all about the bottom line and refuses to celebrate Christmas, which makes marketing the toy department particularly difficult this time of year. His father is dismayed at the inventory’s lack of cheap plastic toys. Jake hasn’t even stocked the Intellytron robot, this year’s hottest toy. Instead he chooses tried and tested stuff, train sets and wooden toys, to line his shelves. But will that cost him his job if the toy department doesn’t put up big numbers?
The real question, though, is: who the heck is Mrs. Miracle? She’s the mysterious old lady who one day has just appeared in the toy department, claiming to have always worked there despite there being no evidence of this being true. Her nametag reads ‘Mrs Miracle’ (Doris Roberts) and it’s possible that’s exactly the business she’s in.
Even in a mediocre Christmas movie, Doris Roberts is a real sprinkle of cinnamon, elevating and enlivening (is that a word?) every scene she’s in.
This movie is very committed to returning to a simpler, more traditional holiday, and I know that’s a popular Christmas movie theme, but I also know my nephews have their eyes on all the lurid plastic toys they see on Saturday morning TV – preferably the kind that shoot smaller, harder plastic toys in the general direction of their little brothers. Can I substitute those with a little wooden duckie you pull by a string? I suppose I could, but not if I want to maintain my status as Cool Aunt Jay (or more realistically, the woman who usually travels with Cool Uncle Sean, who is not much of an ideas man or a shopper or a wrapper, but still somehow gets all of the credit). But my life is never going to look like a Hallmark movie: there’s no cookie baking montage, there’s a cookie baking marathon that leaves my kitchen a Level Orange Disaster Zone and my manicure in ruins. There’s no singing Christmas carols around the old piano, there’s a drunken karaoke attempt and a romantic duet sung inappropriately between blood relatives. No one makes movies about our sloppy paper plate Christmas where the pjs don’t match and Santa gets left Doritos instead of cookies. But it’s our Christmas and if it’s not quite perfect, it’s perfectly ours.