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Beverly Hills 90210 alumni Jason Priestly takes the helm for this warmhearted romantic comedy about a die-hard party girl struggling to change her frivolous ways. Crystal (Amy Acker) comes from a wealthy family. She loves spending money. Her parent's money. When they decide it's time for her to make something of her life they give her until Christmas to clean up her act. Should Crystal fail to comply, her credit cards will be promptly canceled. Petrified at the prospect of having no money and no boyfriend, Crystal has a flash of inspiration when she finds a letter to Santa from seven year old Olivia (Emma Duke). In the letter, Olivia asks Santa to find her widowed father Derek (David Haydn-Jones) a new wife. He owner of a local soup kitchen, Derek has dedicated his life to helping others. Though Crystal has never set foot in a soup kitchen, she soon seeks Derek out and begins volunteering her time in an effort to get closer to him. Little does Crystal realize that Derek's scheming ... Written by
Jason Buchanan, Rovi
While one of those predictable romantic lightly ironic comedies, the character of Crystal played by Amy Acker (Angel, 2001-2004; Person of Interest, 2012-2013) is offered a role that expands on the traditional relational depth especially with the young girl in the movie. Amy also portrays Crystal without the stereotypical hard edged elite finish, offered used by snobby, spoiled women on screen. Instead Amy brings a more softer but just as effective naive, selfish demeanor to film. Her transformation is appealingly fascinating. If not for another Amy, an actress named Amy Adams, who has been more successful in transitioning from television to the movies with the breakthrough in Enchanted (2007), Amy Acker (Man of Steel, 2013) might have been much further in her career.
There are moments especially with the energetic rhythmic music that there are flashbacks to 80s delightful romantic comedies such as Mannequin (1987) and Electric Dreams (1984). Dear Santa has the same tempo and tone as Sarah Michelle Geller's Simply Irresistible (1999) but without the literal "magic". Overall this is an above average romantic film that doesn't resort to extraordinary plots, melodramatic performances, but relies on decent performances to depict an entertaining romance, coming of age movie with a simple but enjoyable plot outline. Other romance, coming of age movies might include a deliciously beautiful performance and locale for Diane Lane directed by Audrey Wells in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) or Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (2005), or German romantic comedy Mostly Martha (2001) and remade as No Reservation (2007) starring Catherine Zeta Jones or the coming of age of Scarlett Johansson's character in Nanny Diaries (2007).
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