As a boy, Wesley Hardin Johnson uses his own initiative to send gift boxes to others as their secret Santa. Megan Phillips gets one of these boxes and 20 years later, as an adult journalist, sets out to find the sender of The Christmas Gift.
Megan (Michelle Trachtenberg) works for a web and print media company that is constantly in need of new stories. She’s also the (now) ex-girlfriend of a fellow reporter who gets ahead by means that aren’t exactly in the holiday spirit. After he is awarded a plum story because of a story they shared a byline on, and on which she did most of the work, Megan is forced to find something upon which she can hang her star. When her Aunt Helen returns to her the journal from that long-ago gift, Megan feels she’s found her story.
She hits a bump in the road by first finding Wesley Hardin Johnson…Senior — an aggressive architect whom, we soon learn, is behind the project that will raze Aunt Helen’s senior community. When she finally catches up the the younger Wesley (Sterling Suleiman), she finds a nurturing person who runs a foster care center. Writing about the center instead of her secret Santa, Megan helps not only her career, but also her dating situation. At least until her morally-bankrupt ex-boyfriend Alex decides to sabotage her professionally and, by extension, personally.
In the end, Megan’s career is salvaged and fences are mended with Wesley. Even Wesley Sr. softens up a bit.
The heart of this story is pure — someone helped in the past wants to meet the person who sent her a special gift and gets caught up in his continuing virtue. This plot led by these two actors worked well. Unfortunately, there’s the rest of the movie.
There were times when the writing, directing, and the acting of the supporting cast were conspicuously underwhelming. That, more than anything, made watching this film more of a chore than it needed to be. I’m of very mixed feelings about the antagonist, Alex. Sadly, he’s all too realistic (I worked near one of these guys, once). While I do give good marks for keeping the character from being a caricature, I have to mark down for pure psychopathy.
I was also disappointed in Cooper, the editor. His solution for the framing of Megan was, essentially, to tell her to buck up — despite the fact that him encouraging Alex in the first place is was created the mess. But this paled in contrast to the ending. In an effort to give Wesley Jr.’s foster kids homes for Christmas, Wesley Sr. basically gathers up his rich friends and asks them to pick the kids they want. That’s not how it works. It felt kind of smarmy.
While The Christmas Gift had good and enjoyable moments, especially with Megan, Wesley, and the kids, they didn’t get a lot of help to make it a holiday staple. While the diverse cast was very much welcome, the overall execution left something to be desired.
|2.5 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo Credit: Hybrid, LLC