I spend a lot of my time watching certain kinds of Christmas movies. There are the Christmas horrors (of which we now have SO many to choose from), the Christmas films aimed at kids (either animated or focusing on Santa, or just mixing in some adorable pets), and the Christmas films that make up the overwhelming majority nowadays - the safe and inoffensive products churned out every year by Hallmark and ABC and the like. In fact, it's easy for me to forget that there are other kinds of Christmas movies out there. Films with a deeply religious message, the many action movies penned by Shane Black (okay, some count more than others), and those that deliver a message about kindness and love by making you watch a main character get put through the wringer for almost an entire 80 minutes before using the finale to set things right. A Christmas Wish falls firmly in the latter camp.
Kristy Swanson stars as Martha Evans, a struggling mother of three children. She has been placed in that position, just days before Christmas, by a husband who decided to abscond with all of their money. Which is why she heads off for a fresh start, trying to do her best by her children (despite one constantly reminding her that she isn't his real mother), booking into a motel room, and taking on a very low-paid position in a diner owned by a kind woman who would love to help more, but just can't.
Written and directed by Craig Clyde, A Christmas Wish may not be surprising or slick, or even that overflowing with festive cheer, but it is a surprisingly effective and moving little film. As well as the plot details mentioned, you have the potential for romance, a car that decides to break down at the most inconvenient time, a dilemma about living arrangements, and problems ensuring that the children are looked after.
Swanson does well in an unglamorous role, although she still manages to shine without outshining the character she is playing, and the cast also includes Edward Herrmann as a grumpy diner customer who takes a liking to her character, Tess Harper as the aforementioned kindly diner owner, K. C. Clyde as a handsome and sweet local guy, and some decent child actors (particularly Kevin Herring III and Kristin Dorn). There are also good turns from Mike Hagerty, Page Petrucka, Star Herrmann, and many of the other supporting players.
I must have had problems with needles falling off my Christmas tree this year because, just before the end credits started to roll, I felt a little something in my eye. Yeah, it must have been the tree. That is the only explanation. Because there's no way that a TV movie like this would put a lump in my throat and make my eyes so watery. Nuh uh. No way.
Here is a large selection of Christmas movies to enjoy.
And American elves can pick the same set up here.