The Tale of 2 Chris's and a Kris
"Farewell Mr. Kringle" is the sort of Christmas movie you watch if you just want something pleasant, something which doesn't demand much concentration and delivers an easy going blend of fun and warmth. If you watch it expecting anything else then to be honest you are going to be left wanting because this is a made for TV Christmas movie which works with a few Christmas standards from a man who thinks he is Kris Kringle through to a holiday romance. It doesn't try to do anything really new with them but sets out to be a pleasant, inoffensive and warm movie and that is what "Farewell Mr. Kringle" does.
Having lost her husband in an accident 3 years earlier on Christmas Eve, journalist Anna Wall (Christine Taylor - Tropic Thunder) doesn't do Christmas which means she is not over the moon at her latest assignment to go to a town called Mistletoe where a man called Kris Kringle (William Morgan Sheppard - Transformers) has played Santa for 50 years. Despite showing up determined to get the truth about the town and the man called Kris the good natured people of Mistletoe and Kris himself win her over. But when she starts to fall for handsome local Mark Stafford (Christopher Wiehl) her fear of being heart broken again causes issues.
on first look "Farewell Mr. Kringle" feels like it's going to be a movie about a man who believes he's Santa giving us a twist on "Miracle on 34th Street" with a journalist writing a blog about him, not believing he is who he thinks he is. Indeed the first half of the movie is pretty much all about Anna investigating Kris, who he was before he changed his name, why he does what he does and what impact he has had on the town of Mistletoe, a town which changed its name out of gratitude to him. And as you would expect Kris's charm rubs off on Anna as she not so much believes he's Santa but believes in the magic of Christmas once again having stopped celebrating the holiday and understood why he does it. To be honest it is all very charming, not the most magical of Christmas movies but one which is fun as we learn all about the man who has played Santa for 50 years and improved peoples lives by doing so.
But that is just the first half of "Farewell Mr. Kringle" which leads into a Christmas romance which sees Anna meeting handsome Mark, the former hot shot divorce lawyer, and falling for him but is scared of commitment. And so we learn that following the death of her husband 3 years earlier on Christmas Eve she has shunned commitment because she fears heart break and the only way to guarantee no more heart break is not to fall in love. The outcome of this is obvious and attempts to make it more with a semi dramatic twist does nothing to disguise the inevitable feel good ending although the extent it goes to bring everything to a perfect end is surprising. But it kind of works, this is not some great romantic movie, in fact the romance is pretty typical of any modern romantic comedy, but it is pleasant.
Pleasant is actually a great way to describe "Farewell Mr. Kringle" from start to finish as there is nothing in the slightest bit offensive to put people off. In fact for many it will probably be a little too pleasant as whilst technically a movie with a touch of fantasy the level of niceness is more unrealistic than anything which is fantasy like. But if you want a nice Christmas movie then "Farewell Mr. Kringle" delivers nice in the bucket load.
A huge reason why "Farewell Mr. Kringle" ends up enjoyable is that the casting is spot on from the quirky locals to the main characters. Ironically you would never say that the performances were great but Christine Taylor has that adorable nature about her which makes us warm to her even if Anna is a cliche. In the same way Christopher Wiehl maybe cliche as Mark the nice guy love interest but he pulls it off in an expected manner. And then you have William Morgan Sheppard who does deliver a nice performance as Kris, he may look more like a shopping mall Santa than you might expect but he delivers the warmth of the character, the friendly old man who lives life for the good of others.
what this all boils down to is that "Farewell Mr. Kringle" is a very pleasant made for TV Christmas movie. There are no big surprises and to be honest everything about it is cliche and obvious but it delivers plenty of warmth which you get a sense was what it set out to do.