'The Santa Squad' Review: Rebecca Dalton steals affections of widower from Grinchy girlfriend in Christmas film
The handsome widower Gordon (Aaron Ashmore) is always busy with work. He is the CEO of a multinational corporation, whose work takes up almost all his time, leaving very little for his two precious daughters
Spoilers for 'The Santa Squad'
In his 2016 book ‘Christmas as Religion’, Christopher Deacy noted that Christmas movies act as a “barometer of how we might want to live and how we might see and measure ourselves.” Per Deacy, these movies offer a peek into a model version of everyday life, affirming ethical values, and social mores. Lifetime’s latest holiday offering -- 'The Santa Squad' -- paints the way for how important the festival is for children, for families.
The film follows Allie (Rebecca Dalton), an out-of-work art teacher, who accepts a job with the eponymous Santa Squad -- a group that helps people with Christmas chores like decorating and shopping. Her job takes her to the wealthy Church household. The Churches are a family that’s as rich in money as it is impoverished in personal relationships and happiness.
There is the handsome widower Gordon (Aaron Ashmore), who is always busy with work. He is the CEO of a multinational corporation, whose work takes up almost all his time, leaving very little for his two precious daughters, Rose (Hattie Kragten) and Iris (Molly Lewis). But Allie’s arrival turns their world around. The usually gruff (but kind) butler Daniel (Michael Therriault) finds himself smiling. The two little girls find themselves opening up for the first time. Rose, who is buried in books, finds joy in decorating the household. Iris, who is just a little child, almost begins to have the mom-shaped hole in her heart filled with Allie’s love, care, and laughter.
But what Christmas story can exist without a Grinch-archetype? In comes Kimmee (Paniz Zade), Gordon’s frigid girlfriend who finds the decoration tacky, the laughter problematic, and who believes Christmas is an occasion of elegance, luxury, and fine tastes -- not love, and warmth, and happiness. She hates Allie, of course. She removes the handmade decorations from her precious white Christmas tree. And she has the audacity to suggest that the girls be sent to boarding school. You can’t get a better combination of the Grinch and a soap opera vamp.
Thankfully, the last thing was where Gordon drew the line. He loves his daughters and he can’t imagine sending them off to a boarding school. At the same time, one can’t help but notice just how increasingly fond he’s been growing of Allie -- little chats, stolen smiles, and domestic bliss that Kimmee simply doesn’t bring to the table.
Of course, Kimmee going away may be a Christmas miracle, but human misunderstandings can still ruin things (even if briefly). While making cookies with Allie, Rose leaves her oven mitt inside the oven. As smoke fills up the kitchen, Gordon blames Allie and he fires her. Thankfully, that misunderstanding only lasts for a short while and they are all united once again. The film ends with Gordon and Allie kissing under a mistletoe as the daughters and everyone else cheered.
Holiday movies provide solace, reaffirmation, and sometimes even courage to continue working through difficult situations. These movies offer hope in believing it all might turn out alright in the end. 'The Santa Squad’, at the end of the day, is a lovely tale (sometimes too schmaltzy) about what the holiday spirit brings to the table. And yes, it’s a little gooey and predictable, but is that really a concern when you’re cuddled up with your family with mugs of hot chocolate, just trying to have a jolly good time?
'The Santa Squad' premieres on December 7 at 8 pm ET on Lifetime.