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Jennifer, a young, ambitious executive running promotions at a failing Boston mall comes up with a genius promotional gimmick to save her workplace and position herself for advancement: hold a "Hunky Santa" contest to replace the old Mall Santa. David, a local man trying to save his family's pizzeria, ultimately wins the contest and sparks fly between him and Jennifer. However, complications ensue when it comes to light that the company Jennifer works for is the same one trying to run David's family out of business. Written by
Michael J. Murray
Every year about this time we can depend on Michael J. Murphy to come up with a story that is a new take on the holiday (' When Angels Come to Town', 'Finding John Christmas' 'A Town Without Christmas', etc) and this year is no exception. With DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA, his new story for this year, he has taken into consideration the aspects of the economy that just may dampen spirits around Christmas time falling retail sales needing a boost to stay alive, small businesses facing loss of their family income due to corporate take over of property and subsequent displacement vs. abandonment of dreams, and the lack of Christmas spirit in people who have focused their lives on climbing the corporate ladder instead of cherishing the extended family of friends who have not forgotten the meaning of the season and found a winning way to restore our confidence that as long as the Christmas spirit is salvaged, miracles can happen!
Jennifer Walker (Laura Vandervoort) is a beautiful and successful executive who runs a mall in Boston, supported by her best friend Marissa Marlet (Paula Brancati) and a host of co-workers who admire her. Jennifer is informed by her boss Edgar Hildreth (Patrick Garrow) that the mall will close and her climb into the corporate world will be thwarted unless she can boost sales during the lucrative holidays. Noting with Marissa that a local fashion store has hired body builders (such as Gavin Fox et al) to meet the ladies, a technique that seems to be increasing sales: the idea of having a Santa Claus who is a hunk rather than the usual jolly fat guy will attract more buying women to the mall and to that end they stage a contest for a hunky Santa. One of the contestants is David Morretti (Nick Zano) a handsome guy who works in his family's pizzeria to make money to attend school: he dreams of becoming a doctor. The Morretti Pizzeria is being threatened with closure to make way for the new corporate buildings (the corporation happens to be run by Jennifer's boss Hildreth). Hearing that the prize for being selected hunky Santa comes with a reward of $10,000. (enough money to fight the corporate takeover of Morreti's Pizzeria), David enters the contest and wins despite the fact that there appears to be coldness on Jennifer's part (she is dating a corporate type Neal John Bregar and finds little time for David's 'excessive humanity'. The promotional gimmick is a huge success and leads to Holiday surprises all around: old perceptions are not immutable and family, sharing, and love change the picture
The movie is light and airy and carries a solid sense of the changes that involvement in the Christmas Spirit can make, even in the Scrooges of the world. The dialogue is snappy and the actors in the cast are a solid group. Murphy's story is so well written that it is able to survive some directorial misjudgments. But as usual stories by Michael J. Murphy make the holidays brighter. Murphy is a writer to watch!
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