Letters to Santa are supposed to mark the beginning of a magical season filled with joy, twinkle lights and the people that we love most around us – and maybe that coolest toy under the tree. For Matt (A.J. Buckley) all these letters signify is more work. As a postal worker, the holiday season means the start of a longer day and more packages to haul around on his route. An aspiring guitarist who left his free-spirit band mates and days on the road behind in order to take custody of and care for his precocious niece Emily, Matt is determined to give his niece a stable environment to grow up in. Little does Matt know that Emily is writing Santa for something more – this year she wants only her beloved Uncle’s happiness… and someone who can make their family feel complete.
Kristi North (Ashley Scott) spends her life on “special assignment” from the USPS replying to children’s letters to Santa. She travels from place to place, year after year doing her part to bring Christmas joy to the world. This year she just happens to be assigned the post office branch that employs Matt. Relationships are not something Kristi is very practiced at – she never learned to drive and has a heart of gold and despite all of his rules, Matt is drawn to this special person who was also the most unexpected thing to walk into his life. Now, with Christmas approaching Matt has to discover how best to raise Emily – and maybe find something he has been missing.
This is probably the cutest Christmas flick that I’ve seen this year. It radiates a kind of magical quality that is sappy but also really endearing. It boasts stars who are not just stars known by low-budget films – A.J has appeared in CSI: NY and you may remember Ashley from 12 Rounds, and it tells a story that if put in different hands really had a lot of potential. Don’t get me wrong, the way that this production turned out is cute all by itself but had it been given more time (likely it was a quick shoot) and a bigger budget, this one really has heart, and with that, it might have been something even better than it was.
Two things annoyed me. Matt spying on Kristi for his boss was a little too contrived and goofy for me – especially since the boss was a little… well, fruity (all for laughs). That plot could have been written better (because it is an often-used one) but it really fell flat. Secondly, Kristi is an adorable character – she just sparkles with happiness but that cheeriness can get somewhat annoying when it is carried as far as it was. Her consistent perkiness is all for a reason (bet you can’t guess what that might mean) but still, I think the character could have been played a bit less… perky. Nevertheless, she is a sweet character, and she and Matt are adorable together with so many moments together that make you want to sigh with pleasure at their engaging friendship. Still despite that, we probably could all learn something from Kristi and even my petty griping cannot diminish this is a gem of a movie. The opening of this movie does throw its viewer a bit since three minutes pass with nary a word of dialogue – the musical soundtrack is all the indication we get that there is even sound (I was almost beginning to wonder if there would be NO talking!). Something in the tradition of Christmas Lodge, this is a movie that follows in Hallmark’s footsteps even though it wasn’t released through the popular family outlet, it is reminiscent of it. If you are looking for something new this season to enjoy in front of the television, check out this charmer. Sure, it is chocked full of clichés, but this is one ‘letter’ that is hard to resist.
Christmas Mail is available on DVD or check your local listings for repeat showings on television.
(This movie hardly merits more than a TVPG-rating. Emily tries to fix her uncle up and as a result, there is one question about how long it has been since he’s had sex, and one implication wonders if Kristi is a homosexual [she isn't]. A mean-spirited trick is played.)