Holiday Watch: Crazy For Christmas

A lot of Christmas movies can be downright dour while others are such treacly fantasies that they positively make your teeth ache. Crazy For Christmas isn’t one of those movies. While it still follows a recognizable path to the inevitable happy ending, the pace of the story and the enthusiasm of the characters make this an enjoyable romp with a satisfying emotional component.

From the beginning it’s clear that the movie is modeled on the Deborah Foreman vehicle (pun unavoidable), My Chauffeur. Crazy For Christmas borrows the through-line of a rich man hiring out his chauffeur daughter who doesn’t know about their relationship. In a bit of inspired casting, the rich dude is played by Howard Hesseman, who not only made famous an eccentric DJ from Cincinnati, but who also played the part of the limo boss in My Chauffeur. He shines here in the part of a man who literally tosses money to the wind.

The unsuspecting daughter is played by an actress I’ve enjoyed watching since the early 90s (or so), Andrea Roth. Here she plays Shannon McManus, a struggling single mother. As flamboyant as Hesseman’s Fred Nickells is, Shannon is a pragmatist. She hasn’t been beaten down by life but isn’t one to take off on flights of fancy, either.

Shannon and Fred (and Roth and Hesseman) balance each other wonderfully as they sally forth on their holiday adventure. Along the way, they are joined by an up-and-coming local reporter, Peter Archer, on the verge of breaking into the big-time. What makes Peter different is that he hasn’t sold his soul to corporate newsertainment. He’s soon smitten with Shannon (I mean, who wouldn’t be? It’s Andrea Roth!), but the love story never seems very contrived. As with much from this script, there is a flow that seems fairly natural, even with Fred’s bouts of wackiness.

As with many holiday movies, the truth does eventually come out. If you’ve seen My Chauffeur, you can see the explanation coming from a mile away (it might take until you are as close as a kilometer away if you haven’t seen that movie :-)) But the period from revelation to denouement is, again, well paced. It’s not so short that you feel cynically manipulated, but not so long that you start shouting at the screen, “Get on with it!”

Crazy For Christmas has become one of my favorite holiday films, not just of the 00s. It has heart, humor, and doesn’t insult me. That it echoes one of my guilty-pleasure movies doesn’t hurt. Andrea Roth and Howard Hesseman’s chemistry, and the script that made it possible, make this a fun diversion that I look forward to watching.

4.25 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

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