If You Believe (1999)

Hayden Panettiere and Ally Walker in If You Believe (1999)

Scrooge and the Kid

Take a smidgen of "A Christmas Carol" and combine it with Bruce Willis's "The Kid", set it at Christmas and throw in some slight Christmas movie references and what you end up with is "If You Believe". Okay so it is impossible as "The Kid" was a later movie but what it does is make "If You Believe" sound like a derivative mismatch of pinched ideas. And in truth it is a derivative collection of pinched ideas but an entertaining one at that which has the warmth and magic which in my book great Christmas movies are made of. Not that I would ever call "If You Believe" a great Christmas movie because it is too derivative but if you want a movie to give you some Christmas cheer then look no further.

Suzie Stone (Hayden Panettiere - The Forger) use to love Christmas as a child but over the years her love has been chipped away by life and now as the grown up and more professionally sounding Susan Stone (Ally Walker - The Seventh Coin), a book editor, she has grown to dislike Christmas. But Christmas is not the only thing causing Susan problems as she has lost her passion for her job despite working all hours and is on the verge of being fired. But then that all changes when after banging her head she returns home to discover a little girl on her couch who looks just like her niece, except it isn't, it is Suzie when she was 7 and she has shown up to remind Susan about who she use to be and how much she loved Christmas and her job all of which leads to her meeting writer Tom (Tom Amandes - Second Chances).

Tom Amandes in If You Believe (1999)

So as I said at the start "If You Believe" is basically a cross between "A Christmas Carol" and "The Kid" with an obvious romantic subplot in there. It makes it extremely derivative as we have the grumpy Susan badgered back into life by the exuberant Suzie all of which leads to Susan having a fondness for writer Tom. But at the same time it is a lot of simple fun and you almost get a sense that all those involved knew this wasn't going to be a great Christmas movie but did what ever was needed to make sure it radiated Christmas warmth and fun.

And that is certainly what "If You Believe" is with laughs coming from various angles be it Susan being Grumpy, Suzie being boisterous or the whole romance as Susan grows to like Tom. In fact the whole romance works because of the casing of Tom Amandes as Tom because he brings a touch of the James Stewart to the character with his love of the small town he lives in. Again it doesn't offer up anything new when it comes to the laughs but by delivering what works in other Christmas movies it works here especially with the wonderful winter back drop which appears when the story heads to Connecticut.

Now I have already mention Tom Amandes who has this wonderful good guy thing going on but the other performances are just as good with Ally Walker doing a brilliant job as Susan taking us from being grumpy to happy with some nice ups and downs along the way. And Walker works well with Hayden Panettiere who plays the 7 year old Suzie and Panettiere looks to be having a field day being allowed to play it over the top and boisterously.

What this all boils down to is that "If You Believe" is a derivative movie and you will watch it recognizing various ideas from other movies. But it works all those recognizable elements nicely together with plenty of fun and Christmas warmth which makes it a good Christmas movie.

Tags: TV Christmas Movies, Christmas Movies