A Christmas Miracle

A Christmas Miracle premiered on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries on November 14. It stars a Mowry sister! I can’t tell which one. Oh, It’s Tamera. Anyway, I’m thrilled. Let’s dive in.

Emma and her son, Tyler have just moved back to Denver from Savannah. It feels like it should be the reverse, right? They also make the streets of Denver look just PACKED. I mean, I guess. So they’ve just moved there for Emma’s job. But I think she is going back to the same company she worked at previously. Emma is dropping her son Tyler off at winter camp. He will start a new school in January, but for now will attend this winter camp. Look, I know people do this for the winter school break. But there are some things happening in this movie that make it seem like he’s going to be at winter camp for the entire month of December. Maybe Emma wrestled with having him start school before Christmas but decided it would be easier to start at the beginning of a semester. But are you allowed to just not have your kid in school? And wouldn’t it be cheaper than paying for full-time day camp? Emma, can we just think this through for a few more minutes? No? Okay, send him in to camp. She does promise him it will be their best Christmas ever. So Emma, I’m just going to mention this one more time. If he’s enrolled in school, you don’t have to pay for so many weeks of day camp and then you can get him more stuff. Alright, I’m going to release that.

In a place of business, a real tough business lady is scrolling through pictures on an iPad. Despite the stern expression on her face, Marcus hopefully asks what she thinks. She is not mad, just disappointed in him. They don’t “pop”. Marcus’s office mate, Barry says, they pop for me! So, does Barry have a crush on Marcus or is he just a super supportive friend?

Emma is in her literal broom closet of an office which is all the way down the hall from Valerie, the woman for whom she is the executive assistant. She has acquired desk Christmas trees for EVERYONE in the office and wants to pass them out. The mail delivery person is sadly incredibly touched by this. I don’t cry at the thought of this person’s presumably miserable life.

Valerie stops by Emma’s office as a way of getting her steps in. We learn Emma is just a real go getter. She’s already printed off the “phone sheets” for her boss and gotten her an iced coffee. I have questions. Whenever assistants are getting their bosses a beverage, who pays? Does the assistant have the boss’s credit card info? Is the company paying? Is the assistant getting reimbursed? What if the boss doesn’t want to pay for coffee every day but the assistant does it anyway? I see this in movies all the time and have never understood. Also, what are phone sheets and why does Valerie need them printed out and what is she going to do with them? Business things? Magazine things? If it is just to keep her contacts organized then they both should be fired.

Emma gets invited in to Valerie’s office and we learn what all this “business” is about. The “Daily Lifestyle” Magazine. HONESTLY. Can we ever come up with something that sounds real? Valerie and Emma talk about how they have their biggest issue of the year coming up-their Christmas issue. Again, I would like to ask where we’re at on the calendar. How is it Christmas break for schools but this magazine has not yet put out its Christmas issue? MARTHA is MONTHS AHEAD OF YOU. Not only have they not put out their Christmas issue, they do not yet have ANY ideas. And this year needs to be the BEST YET. Emma explains more of her background. She used to be a freelance journalist. Valerie says she knows Emma is a tad over qualified. But maybe if she does a good job, she could be a JUNIOR STAFFER!!!! Oh wow. The stakes JUST GOT RAISED.

While Valerie is looking over that important phone sheet, Emma finishes passing out the desktop Christmas trees to the rest of the staff. She meets Marcus. He tells her that by Friday, her Christmas peppy-ness is going to dwindle. The fast pace of this Daily Lifestyle magazine will crush her soul in less than a week.

Alright, the Editor in Chief called a meeting. We need to make this the BEST CHRISTMAS ISSUE EVER. EVERYONE’S IDEAS ARE GARBAGE. Following a celebrity back home for Christmas? DONE IT. Going to celebrity holiday parties? Get out of here with that idea, KAREN. Go back to your offices and think hard about whether or not you actually care about Christmas or this magazine.

Emma picks Tyler up from winter camp. He really hates it there. On their way home, they stop by a Christmas-y set up town square thing. There is a guy named “Santa Dean” playing the piano and singing. Emma’s friend and realtor meets up with them. They chat about the move and the job.

Back at home, Emma is wearing ADORABLE pajamas. And they somehow have enough time to make some headway on a gingerbread house. But poor little Tyler is falling asleep. He asks to sleep on the couch while Emma does some work. Poor little pup. This feels like maybe the most realistic thing in this movie. She starts “searching” on the line for some Christmas miracles.

The next morning, Emma has a great idea for the cover story for the Christmas episode. She talks to her new pal Marcus about how to approach Valerie about it. He gives her some tips about when and how to talk to Valerie. He also says her idea is interesting. He says “good interesting” but I don’t believe him.

She approaches Valerie when she is seemingly in a good mood. She wants to find a real life Christmas miracle to highlight. She makes some suggestions that just sound like rejected Hallmark movie plots. (High five!). Valerie is like, that’s cool or whatever. I’ll think about it.

Later, Valerie scolds Marcus because his photos of reindeer Christmas cookies are LITERAL Garbage. She throws his tablet against the wall and tells him to make the cookies all over and take the pictures again. People should FEEL something when they see pictures of Christmas cookies. They should want to drop everything they’re doing and bake those cookies. HOW ARE YOU NOT GETTING THIS MARCUS?!

In the hallway, Valerie walks by Marcus and Emma chatting. Emma asks how the pitch went with the Editor in Chief. Valerie is like, well she hates all your guys’ dumb ideas so now I have to carry this ENTIRE MAGAZINE on my back. Emma is bummed.

Back at her house, Emma has a nice chat with her bff about balancing it all as a single mom. Emma, I think you are doing a GREAT JOB. Sincerely. So does her friend.

The next day at the staff meeting, Valerie tells the staff to get working on the ideas they pitched earlier. But none of them are going to be the cover story so DON’T BOTHER. Valerie again says she’s going to be handling the cover story and DON’T ASK what it’s about. Emma asks if she can go pick up a Christmas tree for the office. Valerie, in a twist, is WORKING FOR MARCUS and offers him to help.

Emma and Tyler meet Marcus at the tree lot. Tyler feels like the most realistic child in a Hallmark movie to date. He is very shy meeting new people. Marcus is really great to him and he warms up to him. They talk about photography. In amongst the trees, Tyler picks a GIANT tree for their house. Emma says its way too big but is worried about disappointing Tyler. Marcus tells Tyler a story about the best kinds of trees and essentially talks Tyler out of the gigantic tree and into a much more reasonably sized one. Emma is so pleased.

They get to the office and I audibly chuckle. Emma wanted to buy a tree to give the office some holiday cheer. Well, there is barely any room for a tree in the lobby area because EVERY SQUARE INCH is covered in Christmas decorations. I think there is even another tree. There is a cute moment of poor Marcus trying to get the tree in straight all by himself. He’s gonna need someone else to hold that bad boy up. After that, Marcus is like well I’m gonna head home if no one needs anything else. Tyler asks if he can stay. They have a a quick Christmas decorating montage.

The next morning, everyone is so filled with holiday cheer thanks to that tree. But they were not filled with holiday cheer from the other decorations lining every remaining inch of that lobby. Again, did the executive assistant have to pay for this out of her own pocket? Or can Valerie unilaterally decide to drop $200 of the company’s money on a tree? I’m not comfortable with either option.

In the hallway, Emma overhears Valerie talking to the Editor in Chief. Valerie TOTALLY STOLE HER IDEA. Emma is pretty dang hurt.

She goes to talk to Marcus about it. Marcus suggests she just pretend that she doesn’t know. Emma is not sure if she can pretend not to know. She says this great line “Have you met my face?!”. So great. Valerie pops her head in and Emma gets her first chance to demonstrate being fake. Success!

Valerie meets with a writer and asks him to come up with a Christmas miracle story. She offers him the biggest Christmas bonus of his life if he is successful.

Down in Emma’s obscenely decorated broom closet, Marcus asks if she’d like to take a break. She says she needs to just put her nose to the grindstone and work hard. But he talks her in to taking a break. They go outside and presumably get coffee. He tells her she should just do the article herself. She pops in to winter camp and see’s poor, sad Tyler coloring by himself. They go back to town square and see Santa Dean playing the piano again. After he’s done playing, he gives all his tips to the bell ringer. He says he just plays for fun. They chat for a littl bit and Anna tells Santa Dean what his favorite song is. I guess this is a different scene and she’s not on the break with Marcus because he’s nowhere to be found. Emma’s friend thinks she should just do the article too.

Emma and Tyler have a cute grilled cheese moment. In the morning, Emma tells Marcus that she is going to go for it! She’s going to write the article and present it to the bosses when she’s done. She’s wearing a great green top.

The nameless writer found a miracle story and brings them in to meet Valerie. They tell a story that actually sounds like a movie I would watch next year. They are both librarians and they bought this old house. They found a First Edition of a Charles Dickens novel that was signed by him and presumably given to his son Henry. The guy’s name is Henry! And they think if they sell it, they will have enough money to keep a literacy program going where they both volunteer. Well, that is…an underwhelming story. And I have questions. Charles Dickens is British and this story takes place in Denver. I know Charles Dickens did a couple US tours but the first one was before A Christmas Carol was written and he didn’t make it very far west on the second tour. So this book would have been purchased by the previous owner and then forgotten? Also, does Hallmark know about any other 19th Century authors? Why would this book be in the floor boards? This book can’t possibly bring in enough money for that. And finally, why haven’t they just done it already. Anyway, they’re stoked about it and think this is a great Christmas miracle. At this point, I think we will hear a few pitches and then decide. Nope! Valerie is so stoked about this whole thing she is ready to sign them right up.

That evening, Emma takes Tyler to go ice skating. Oh yay! She’s wearing hockey skates. They both don’t really know what they’re doing but they’re having a great time. Marcus shows up. He heard Emma mention her plans so he decided to be super creepy and show up there. Tyler sees some kids from winter camp but doesn’t want to say hi. Marcus gives him a nice pep talk and Tyler races over to introduce himself. As the mom of a pretty shy pup, I find this scenario unlikely but I also feel proud that Tyler is being so brave. Marcus has an idea for her story and as they chat about it, Anna loses her balance and Marcus catches her. We’re in this!!

Later, they all go back to the town square and see Santa Dean playing. They chat with him some more. And Santa Dean gives Tyler a quick lesson. Emma makes a comment about how he must have played professionally before and that he seems familiar. He brushes all of that off. Marcus is snapping pics the whole time. They think he’s not giving them the whole story. They whip out their phone and camera to video him in a totally non-creepy way. They decide to do some digging on ol Santa Dean. Maybe there is a Christmas miracle in the making.

At the morning staff meeting, Valerie is in a great mood. She brought pastries!! What a great day. She’s checking in on all the stories and gives Marcus a compliment. Anna says she hasn’t found out any more information about Santa Dean. No one around the park knows anything about him!

That night, Tyler is hanging out with Emma’s friend so Marcus and Emma hit the streets. They have a lovely chat about Emma co-parenting with her ex-husband. They see Santa Dean coming out of a diner. Anna goes in and asks about him. She finds out that he was part of a jazz trio but they stopped performing over ten years ago.

The next day, Tyler is suddenly very excited about going to winter camp. Well that is very good news. At work, Emma shares that she tracked down one of the former members of the trio. The last time they spoke was when they stopped playing TEN YEARS AGO. They decide to go meet with Paul. Paul is wearing the MOST RIDICULOUS CLOTHES for a man that age. He has a newsboy cap perched atop his head and a scarf draped around his neck. They wanted his outfit to make clear that this is a JAZZ MUSICIAN. Paul tells us the backstory. Dean missed a lot of his daughter’s life due to being a professional jazz musician. It’s the age old take. You know how it was for jazz musicians in the late 00s- brutal touring schedule, the parties, recording. So anyway, now his daughter doesn’t speak to him at all.

Emma, having no additional information, comes up with a truly terrible idea. She wants to reunite Dean and his daughter-again, having zero idea as to what caused the rift. Marcus is like, I don’t think you should meddle in something like that. But Anna is undeterred.

They go to pick up Tyler and the teacher mistakes Marcus for Tyler’s dad. One of Tyler’s friends asks if he can come over for dinner. And then they go back to the piano. Marcus and Emma head to town square to find Santa Dean to ask him if he would be willing to let them write the story. In a VERY nice way, Dean accuses them of just using him for a story. Marcus tries too but is unsuccessful. Probably because this is INCREDIBLY inappropriate.

The next day at work, Valerie tells them they’ll both be working all weekend on this secret cover story. Emma has to schedule a photo shoot for the couple. Doesn’t Valerie realize they’re going to figure out that she stole her idea pretty soon? Then Emma invites Marcus to join them for caroling later. She says, “it’s a date!” But then dies of embarrassment. Barry cries silently at his desk. Valerie needs “Graphics” in her office to go over “layout”.

It’s caroling time! So FUN. They’ve got fake candles. And then they sing a song called “Up on the Rooftop”??!! Could they not get the rights to the actual song? Up on the HOUSETOP? Come on Emma. Next, they go find Cissy, Dean’s daughter, at the theatre she works at. Surprise, surprise-Cissy is not interested. Cissy says that he wasn’t exactly “Father of the Year”. Emma does not understand sarcasm and tries to say that all parents are trying their best. But Emma has NO IDEA what her life with her dad was like. She plays the violin at the theatre so she has some musical talent like her dad. And then has to get ready for the performance. But while Marcus is waiting outside, he sees that Dean is going to watch Cissy’s performance. He keeps zooming in as if it is not 100 percent obvious that it is him.

The next day, they are doing a photo shoot with the “Christmas Miracle” couple. They are taking individual photos with the book. Emma says, boy, you must be stoked about how this will bring awareness to children’s literacy! And Henry says, no actually we are hoping this helps launch my wife’s career as an author! Emma finds this suspicious. Then Santa Dean texts. He’s in!! They hug.

Okay so for most of this movie, I couldn’t tell if her name is Emma or Anna. It truly sounds like it could be either one. But at this point in the movie, closed captioning tells me it is definitely “Emma”. So Emma and her friend are having some girl talk while they make cookies.

The next day Emma and Marcus meet with Dean and they learn more about what happened between Dean and his daughter. It is…underwhelming. But I think he still comes across as the bad guy. He missed her graduation because of his grueling tour schedule. She is upset and he says that they both said things they shouldn’t have said. But like, in this scenario, shouldn’t he just have said he was sorry? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. And then we discover they haven’t spoken in ten years. They encourage him not to give up and to perform a Christmas Eve Concert.

Barry catches Marcus in the office on a Sunday working on Emma’s story.

At home, Emma is working on her story and Valerie sends her a text about changing the layout. Valerie isn’t concerned about Emma being upset or making a comment about the idea? I mean, all Emma has to say is, oh you used my idea! Cool! So anyway, Emma searches for similar editions of the Charles Dickens book online. They are for sale for like, $9500. Not really enough to qualify as a Christmas Miracle, I think.

Marcus calls and she says she finished her article. He asks her to celebrate and go out to eat. Isn’t it the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? They go out to eat and Emma brings her article. He is BLOWN AWAY by her writing. They have a nice conversation. She plans to give the article to Valerie first thing in the morning. And then she shares how weird the cover story couple, the Millers, are. It is not adding up to her. She thinks maybe they are scamming the magazine to get some free publicity. Emma says she is going to share her suspicions with Valerie in the morning. Marcus is like, why would you do that? She stole your idea. Emma gets mad at him because she says she’s just trying to do the right thing. Not sure that merits walking out before eating but okay.

The next morning, Emma shares her concerns about the couple with Valerie. Valerie is like, we fact checked this. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Nice try girl! And then Marcus swoops in and says he found out that the very copy the Millers have was purchased just a week and a half earlier. Valerie is a little frazzled. Luckily, Anna has the solution!

At the staff meeting, the Editor in Chief is just BLOWN AWAY. Valerie gives Emma and Marcus all the credit in front of the Editor in Chief. And I think she offers Emma a promotion. Valerie apologizes to Marcus and Emma.

It’s time for the big Christmas Eve Concert! Will Cissy show up? Nobody knows. She’s had a week’s notice for heaven’s sake. Paul is committed to that look apparently. Anything is possible on Christmas Eve! They dedicate the performance to Cissy and Dean gives a nice little speech. Nobody sees her but the band is just about to start playing. It is RIGHT THEN when they hear a violin playing “Silent Night” from somewhere in the back of all the audience. She slowly walks up while playing the violin. They sing and play “Silent Night” all together.

Marcus and Emma have a nice moment and then THEY KISS.

Let’s see how the movie stacks up!

  • 4. Single Parent
  • 7. I’m going to call the Christmas Concert a Pageant here
  • 11. Christmas Baking
  • 12. Winter Athletics
  • 14. Christmas puns
  • 19. A sassy and wise best friend
  • 20. Christmas montage

Total score: 7/20

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