Christmas at the Lake House
ennifer (Tatyana Ali) is a hard working single woman who after being dumped by her boyfriend and then learning that her widowed father Ted (Bill Cobbs - Night at the Museum) has had a fall is taking some time out to return home to look after him even if he says he doesn't need looking after. It is back at home that she begins to receive anonymous romantic Christmas cards in the mail box. Perplexed Jennifer eventually responds to one of these cards, leaving it in the mail box and to her surprise gets a response, a response which makes her realise the cards are coming from Jack (Lamorne Morris), her childhood friend who was secretly in love with her. The trouble is that Jack died three years earlier in a Christmas day car accident.
Let's tackle the elephant in the room right away with "Dear Secret Santa" featuring Jennifer communicating with her secret admirer via a mail box; yes we have a Christmas movie take on "The Lake House". As such there will be those who on discovering this will fall about in fits of laughter at the idea that anyone would even consider ripping off "The Lake House" whilst others may be more impressed. What it means, and remember that "Dear Secret Santa" is a made for TV Christmas movie, is that the outcome is inevitable and is a case of whether in ripping off "The Lake House" they will rip off the climax or come up with something different which I will leave for you to discover.
But as I said "Dear Secret Santa" is a made for TV Christmas movie and one with an element of comedy which means that whilst we have Jennifer the career woman she is a grade A stereotype who bosses her father around whilst doing comical things such as climbing through a window and hiding behind a tree in an obvious manner. Jennifer is not the movie's only stereotype and it is awash with good guys as well as well as a grumpy father who doesn't like that his daughter has thrown away his unhealthy chips. So in a way you could say that "Dear Secret Santa" not only rips off "The Lake House" but pretty much every Christmas movie ever made with that generic sort of humour and array of characters, although having said that there are a couple of comic twists in there which should bring a smile to your face.
In the end if the ripping off of "The Lake House" is not your thing then what "Dear Secret Santa" has to offer is the familiarity of the cast lead by Tatyana Ali delivering a cute but bossy performance. But alongside Tatyana there are Bill Cobbs, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris and several other actors that even if you don't know their names will get you thinking about which movie or TV show you saw them in before.
What this all boils down to is that "Dear Secret Santa" is a Christmas movie which will split audiences; it will be mocked by those who hated "The Lake House" but enjoyed by those who enjoyed the romance in the Bullock Reeves movie. But even if you enjoy that it is a play on "The Lake House" the humour and characters are sadly just typical of the Christmas movie genre.