This movie is achingly bad from the very first. Lacey Chabert, aka, the littlest Party of Fiver, aka one of the mean girls, aka hasn’t worked since “stars” as a single mom who has to give up her dream of being a fashion designer in L.A. to move back home to Ohio for Christmas, with her young daughter in tow.
Things look up very briefly when Kathy Najimi makes a brief appearance as her bubbly aunt, but it’s fleeting and as soon as Najimi’s offscreen, things go downhill rather fast.
So fast in fact that before I know it Mariah Carey is now making my day much worse, appearing as the PTA mom who’s about to make Lacey Chabert’s life even more unbearable, as if being exiled to Ohio wasn’t bad enough. Now she has to put up with some old rival from high school one-upping her and flaunting the lifestyle that dentistry bought her. Some very talented directors have occasionally elicited some not-terrible performances from Carey (I’m thinking of Precious here, and I’m not sure what else) but whoever directed this monstrosity is clearly cowed by her. She’s more wooden than a nutcracker and she’s making hand gestures like she’s Celine Dion, live in concert.
The movie unfolds exactly as a Christmas movie must: little girl finds acceptance by singing in the school pageant, mom falls in love with the music teacher, a major department store wants to buy her designs but she’s already so happy in Ohio she doesn’t need to pursue her other dreams anymore. Oh, and the school janitor may or may not be Santa Claus.