Netflixable? Finding love with a Christmas Fanatic — “I Believe in Santa”

Hallmark of a Hallmark style holiday romance? The pretty single woman/divorced mom always falls for a guy who moisturizes and uses more makeup than her.

Sometimes they shave. Sometimes they’re fashion mag cover-model “rugged.” And sometimes they’re a bit older and relying on hair dye and Clinique to hold back Father Time.

As Netflix has made “OutHallmarking Hallmark” a core tenet of its business model, you can see this scenario play out a half dozen times in any given year’s Netflix Christmas movies.

John Ducey, a veteran supporting player whose TV credits go back nearly 30 years, wrote and co-stars in “I Believe in Santa,” a mirthless and generally unromantic goof on a couple mismatched because Tom, a lawyer, is seriously into “Christmas magic,” and Lisa, the jaded online columnist, is “famously” not into Christmas. Oh no, not at all.

Christina Moore plays Lisa, and she’s Mrs. John Ducey in real life. Ducey plays Tom.

They “meet cute” when she loses track of her little girl Ella (Violet McGraw) at a July 4 fair, and he’s the nice not-at-all-“creepy” lawyer who has her sit in his “Free Legal Advice” booth until self-involved Mom realizes she’s missing.

Once the near-accusations have been abandoned, they watch the fireworks together, and a couple, plus Ella, is born.

But when the year’s biggest “holiday appreciation” column assignment comes around, this loving couple is put to its severest test. To Lisa, Santa is “the poster child for spending money at Christmas,” so no way the corporate overlords will let him fade away. Ella’s just getting old enough to ask questions about the fat man with this very busy Dec. 24 lined up. Tom?

“I believe in Santa!”

He blocks out the entire month of December to attend caroling concerts (beat-boxing holiday tunes), tree lighting ceremonies, visits to department store Santas and the like. And Lisa grits her teeth through it. None pf these “events” is anything other than set-designed pretty. It’s not funny, illuminating, nor do most of them lead to anything like a debate on “Santa’s real” that anyone needs to hear.

Their debates see Tom launch into QAnon level craziness about “Santa time” and other “explanations” for Christmas miracles.

“It’s not about logic. It’s about the Christmas spirit! It’s about the magic!”

Yeah, it’s all a tad insipid, which is another trait these “Hallmark style” pictures all share. And Lisa’s general contempt for “commercialized” Christmas is given no explanation. Just “she’s a journalist” and that’s on brand for us, I guess. Just a bunch of “Killjoy to the Worlds.”

Ducey cooked up an oddly sterile script, making it a point to have Tom separate the “religious” Christmas from of his belief system. The guy’s all in on Santa, debunking the idea that there’s a “global conspiracy” that billions of people around the world believe in. Nonsense like that.

There’s barely a chuckle in this thing, despite giving Lisa the “funny Black BFF from work” (Lateefah Holder) and Tom the funny gay Muslim pal (Sacheen Bhatt) who is either from his work (unclear) or Tom has an even bigger secret he’s keeping from Lisa.

The biggest “name” in the film is the delightful character actress Missi Pyle (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”)who pops in as Missi Toe, one of the singers in the assorted pageants, tree-lightings, etc., that Tom drags Lisa and the viewer to.

“I Believe in Santa” fails to warm the heart, wrap us in romance, salve us with sentiment or tickle the funny bone, the things we typically crave in a Christmas comedy or dramedy. Like too many of these mass production holiday pictures, it’s just filler, something for Netflix to plug in as a place holder and time suck, because Santa forbid Hallmark should have more quick-and-cheap holiday offerings than the world’s dominant streaming service.

Rating: PG

Cast Christina Moore, John Ducey, Lateefah Holder, Violet McGraw, Sacheen Bhatt and Missi Pyle.

Credits: Directed by Alex Ranarivelo, scripted by John Ducey. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:30

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Netflixable? Finding love with a Christmas Fanatic — “I Believe in Santa”

  1. Josecito says:

    El personaje es muy homosexual, no parece pareja de ella, sino que el amigo gay… Malisima!!

  2. Jonny Dollar says:

    I loved it! I have never cried more nor believed so much in Santa!!!

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