Christmas Wish Time
At the exclusive St. Mark's Academy widowed teacher, Evan Farnsworth (Jason Gedrick), agrees to supervise those children not going home for Christmas and finds himself with Juliet (Emmalyn Estrada), Albert (Amitai Marmorstein) and Andrew (Richard Harmon) to look after. When Andrew discovers his parents are leaving him at school for Christmas lashes out and causes problems in town at the Wishing Tree, a local charity event where people write their wishes and place them on a tree. Arrested for the trouble Evan manages to have the charges dropped and sets about dishing out his own punishment, a punishment which leads to Andrew, Albert and Juliet becoming their own little family but it also leads to Andrew's mother trying to get Evan sacked, blaming him for her son's arrest.
"The Wishing Tree" is like a stroll through a series of cliches; from a widowed teacher who hasn't moved on to an angry teen who lashes out for attention there are a lot of them which go in to this storyline. That's not all there is to this made for TV Christmas movie because alongside the cliche there is the cheese which comes in the form of some terrible dialogue, over the top stereotypes and some acting which feels distinctly soap-opera-ish. But the thing about "The Wishing Tree" is that it is a Christmas movie and as such, with its festive spirit and layer of snow, as the good in everyone is discovered all that is frankly poor becomes less important as its good nature wins you over.
Truthfully it does takes a while for "The Wishing Tree" to get going as it seems to be all over the place; we see Andrew get detention for being late to class, Evan meeting Madelyn who is in charge of the Wishing Tree, Evan teaching Great Expectations to the class, bringing the story to life dressed as a Victorian worker and also his friendship with new teacher Clarissa. In many ways it feels jumbled and other than it is obvious that Clarissa is very fond of Evan and that Andrew is negative about everything you wonder what is going to come of this jumble.
But then after what seems almost a mysterious intro it settles down and to be blunt this is where "The Wishing Tree" becomes a collection of cliches. To give you an idea we have Evan who hasn't moved on from the death of his wife two years ago and so is not ready for anything more with Clarissa, Juliet is a talented singer but has stage fright and Andrew is lashing out as he feels ignored by his parents. There is a lot more but basically thanks to Evan's gentleness in getting through to his 3 Christmas wards they grow as a family, finding friendship, individual strength and so much more. That is not all there is to this Christmas movie as we also have some drama as Andrew's mum shows up but again it is cliche drama.
Now to be honest all this cliche is not that great and there is a lot of cheese which goes with it from some poor acting to some cringe worthy dialogue. I'm not sure whether some of the worst dialogue was intentional as a romantic scene seems so OTT that I wonder whether the intention was to make you laugh more than groan. But whether intentional or not there is a lot in "The Wishing Tree" which normally would make me groan but then this is a Christmas movie and somehow these issues become less important. Instead the uplifting positivity and message of hope and belief end up winning through a lot of cute scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "The Wishing Tree" is really just your typical very cute and very cliche made for TV Christmas movie. It is full of issues but because it has charm and a lot of positivity that the things which at any other time of the year would make you groan become more acceptable.