Message in a Santa Letter
Written by Barbara Kymlicka and directed by Jason Priestley, yes "Beverly Hills, 90210" Jason Priestley, "Dear Santa" is a fun festive distraction, a routine Christmas romance which does nothing new but just enough to make you smile. I say nothing new because basically "Dear Santa" is "Message in a Bottle" meets "Sleepless in Seattle" with a touch of "Legally Blonde" for good measure. That probably makes it sound bad but it isn't, it's entertaining in a typically cheesy, cliche Christmas sort of way.
Spoilt rich kid Crystal (Amy Acker) finds a letter to Santa when a gust of air whisks it away from the mail man and in front of her face. Taking it home to read she learns of little Olivia (Emma Duke) who asks Santa for just one thing, a new mummy as her daddy has tried his best for the last two years since his wife died but now is struggling. Smitten by the adorable letter Crystal tracks down Olivia and her father, Derek (David Haydn-Jones), who as well as running a snow clearing business also runs a soup kitchen and mistaking Crystal as a new volunteer has her helping serve the homeless. Falling for Derek, Crystal not only has to deal with whether to tell him about the letter but also Jilian (Gina Holden) a college sweetheart who has plans of her own to fill the emotional gap left in Derek's life.
Okay admittedly "Dear Santa" starts in a very cheesy way, I am on about being very cheesy as with Crystal being a "Legally Blonde" style spoilt brat it is off putting. But trust me when we hear her read the adorably cute letter to Santa asking for a new mummy you immediately ignore all that is grating and sit back for an obvious but fun little romantic comedy. I say obvious because whilst we have a few surprises, issues with the catty Jilian and the soup kitchen add some different elements to it you can guess that along the way Crystal and Olivia will bond and the outcome, well you can guess what will happen.
But whilst the ending is predictable the journey there is an enjoyable one with plenty of cute if cliche scenes. You almost laugh more because you know a scene is coming rather than when it happens, so when Crystal agrees to baby sit you know she is going to be lousy at cooking and ends up ordering pizza you have a laugh because you are right. And how the drama plays out with the secret of Crystal having the letter, you know what's going to happen but when it does there is this strange satisfaction of having known.
And to be honest that is really it because when it comes to the performances well they are what you expect from this sort of Christmas fare. Amy Acker as Crystal transforms from being a spoilt rich kid to someone who cares nicely and David Haydn-Jones is solid as a single father splitting himself between work, the soup kitchen and his daughter Olivia. But in truth these are not real people, these are your typical romantic modern fairytale characters which are a bit caricature like especially Gina Holden as the evil Jilian.
What this all boils down to is that "Dear Santa" is pretty much your standard Christmas romantic comedy which trades on some cliche elements and a feel good tone. It is entertaining and should make you smile but is ultimately forgettable.