This may have been the last movie that our family purposefully sought out to see as a Holiday Family TV movie together. The boys have long outgrown the animated "Grinch" and the puppet "Rudolph" and they ignore my cries of trying to get everyone together to see a sentimental "White Christmas" showing.
But, my youngest nephew Donovan is on the verge of turning 12 and since he met the director, my friend, Sam Irvin, he sat down to watch it last week when "My Santa" aired on ION. What we found was a delightful family TV movie that he's not embarrassed to tell his friends about, and is worth watching over and over.
I've known Sam for the better part of two decades, when he lived across the street from "The Brady Bunch" house in Studio City, and when he just directed the amazing cult horror film "Guilt As Charged" (still one of my favorites!) with iconic actor Rod Steiger. Sam also directed "Elvira's Haunted Hills," the "Oblivion" movies and the "Dante's Cove" series.
Sam also recently authored the book "Kay Thompson From Funny Face To Eloise."
You can see the ION Channel on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. and again on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. You can also watch it any time online (see below).
(Also see some of the behind-the-scenes photos provided by Sam in the photo gallery.)
One of Sam's staples is his longtime friend Julie Brown (Whose been in "Earth Girls are Easy," "Clueless," the series "Strip Mall" and "Medusa: Dare to be Truthful." That randy red-head is the funny sidekick friend to Samaire Armstrong (who you know from "Dirty Sexy Money," "One Tree Hill" and "Entourage.")
There's a mystery of magic right away. Two guys breeze into town in a very "Music Man" kind of way, setting up a Christmas tree-selling lot and a Santa booth in a local mall. The pair (are they con men?) are Matthew Lawrence from "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Jim O'Heir (Jerry from "Parks & Recreation"). But, it's not the bigger Jerry who plays Santa, it's cute Matthew Lawrence, and he's doing it to impress his dad. What is going on here?
Then, there's another super-cute love interest for the single ladies, played by hunk Ben Gavin, who portrays a hot investigative reporter who has lost his job.
Samaire plays a single mom with a young son, portrayed by Gabe O'Mara, and so we're immediately trying to figure out if she ends up with her cute new co-worker, and who is this mysterious cute Santa who also seems interested in her.
The secret Santa is named "Chris" and we soon find out he thinks his dad is the real Santa Claus. Uh oh, could be trouble.
The story takes some refreshing twists and although it's a family feel-good special, it's not replete with the traditional cliches of the holiday TV movie.
Sam is great at dealing with a plethora of kooky characters, and he has his share, with the office staff including "Breaking Away" dad Paul Dooley and Channing Chase (the mother-with-dementia in "Mad Men").
Some people have trouble with the holidays, and this single mom with a young child is trying to keep the magic in her family. It's often a struggle, but a heartwarming story like this could help.
As my nephew said, "There's magic in this, and there's not much magic anymore."
How true, and congrats to Sam for bringing some back to family viewing!
You don't have to wait to watch it on ION, you can see it here and watch it anytime:
And let us know what you think in the COMMENTs area below!