This movie combines Christmas, romance, and a mystery, so what’s not to like? The acting is spot on with Michelle Borth as Lana Lawton, Jarrid Massey as Detective Nick Fallon, Leigh Foster as Teddy, and the strong presence of Vivica A. Fox as Robin Drake, who is a leader in a detective agency, one in which Lana hopes to join.
Lana has given herself a certain amount of time to realize her dream to be a private investigator, having loved Nancy Drew books since she was a girl, but the problem is that she is running out of time. She gets in touch with Robin Drake, and Robin is not impressed with Lana’s background. However, Lana picks up on the fact that Robin is waiting on a text from a man she likes, and although she denies it, she later admits that Lana was right. But Robin wants Lana to crack a case before she brings her on board. There is a report of a Santa Claus who has been robbing a family of gems and other items. It may be Lana’s last opportunity to realize her dream by cracking the case. Otherwise, it will be taking a job at a law firm, due to her parents’ insistence that she needs to find steady work, even if Lana is on her own.
On top of this, her old flame from her high school days, Teddy, has come back into her life. They are remembered by their old schoolmates, due to the fact that in their senior year, they were elected king and queen of the prom, and they promptly removed their clothes and dove into a pool.
Teddy takes Lana out to a diner to buy her favorite treat – bacon. He also offers to finance her in starting up her own private investigation agency, but Lana wants to do it on her own, to prove she has what it takes to be successful.
The film combines humor along with the romance and the mystery of the Christmas thief. In one scene, Lana is hiding near a figure of Santa Claus on display with presents, and she’s searching for clues when she falls into the Santa, knocking the figure over along with the presents. We learn Lana loves Christmas, as does her nephew Henry (Bryson Jonsteele), and that she was once hired to play an elf and to sing Christmas songs. And as a girl she once told Santa she wanted to be just like Nancy Drew.
Part of Lana’s dilemma is figuring out which of a few Santa Clauses is the thief when an item of Santa’s clothing is left behind at the scene of a crime. Joining Lana in the investigation is Detective Nick Fallon, a handsome man who at first annoys Lana. But there is no denying there is chemistry between the two. Even Teddy notices this, and in one scene he warns Nick off, telling him he loves Lana.
Lana’s young nephew, Henry, helps Lana with her investigation, and longs to be a detective too. In one funny scene, he says, “Is the game afoot, Doll Face?” as he acts like an old-timey gumshoe. One of the problems Lana and Nick face is that the local store Santa only gave his name as Kris Kringle and no other I.D.
In one scene Lana admits she followed Santa the previous night because Henry hired her to prove that he was the real Santa. She set off sensor lights when she did. Nick laughs but then apologizes when Lana tells him that Henry really believes in Santa. Lana and Nick set up surveillance cameras to nab the Santa thief.
The growing triangle between Lana and Teddy and Nick becomes obvious after Nick and Lana almost kiss when they find themselves under mistletoe. And, once again in a comedic scene, when Henry asks Lana if she thinks Nick is “dreamy” she replies, “Well, I—I mean, no!” But she’s not convincing. We learn more about Nick’s background when he shares that his mother died when he was little, but that his stepmother always displays his mom’s ornament on the tree every year.
In one telling scene, Nick spots Lana and Teddy kissing, and looks quite jealous and disappointed. Decisions will soon have to be made because, despite the kiss with Teddy, it is obvious that Nick and Lana have feelings for one another. And then the leader of a law firm makes Lana an offer. Lana decides if she doesn’t get hired by Robin Drakes’ detective agency, she will accept the offer. A sort of competition occurs between Teddy and Nick when they enter a bean-bag throwing contest, and Teddy barely wins.
The film also contains a great scene when Lana sings a nice version of Silent Night. Lana and Nick learn more about each other when Nick discovers that Lana once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, ran in the Boston Marathon, and double majored in criminology and forensic science. Nick’s background includes growing up in Buffalo, graduating from the police academy in Maryland, and that he now lives not far from Lana in an apartment with his cat Barney!
The case continues when Nick and Lana learn that someone tampered with the surveillance cameras. And a couple was robbed again as the thief stole a ruby and left a gum drop in its place. Also, Lana’s dad’s baseball signed by the Bambino himself, Babe Ruth, was stolen, and her mother says it was for their “nest egg.”
Henry tells Nick that he’s “team Nick.” But will it wind up that way, between Lana and Nick? What about Teddy? The movie takes a few twists in the plot, but the questions will be answered as to who the Christmas thief is, and who Lana ends up with. And if the stolen items, such as the gems and Babe Ruth signed baseball, are returned. And Lana uses a creative way to nab the true thief. Will she wind up at Robin Drakes’ agency as a P.I.?
There are several things to think about, including the importance of family and, also, about following one’s own heart, even when others don’t agree with the path we choose. The importance of love is one of the themes too. And persevering until a goal is achieved is another important element of the movie. This movie contains one strong use of language, along with a couple of “OMG” comments, along with some brief drinking scenes. The wonderful themes of love and pursuing one’s dreams are nicely acted in the film, and we are awarding this movie our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
THE DOVE TAKE: This wonderful family movie is a nice watch, even before or after the Christmas holiday, and family members ages 12 and up will enjoy the spirit of Christmas, romance, and mystery contained in the film.