Christmas Unwrapped (2020 Lifetime)

Christmas Unwrapped (2020 Lifetime)

Cast: Amber Stevens WestMarco GrazziniCherion Drakes 

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

From executive producer Tiffany Haddish, Christmas Unwrapped follows Charity (Amber Stevens West), an ambitious reporter, who learns the true meaning of Christmas when she investigates Erik Gallagher (Marco Grazzini), a beloved member of the town who insists all the gifts he provides are from none other than Santa himself. Cheryl Ladd also stars.

Thoughts

Charity Jones wakes up to a house full of decorations put up by her NYC roommate Trish. At a newsstand, Charity meets a man named Erik… who runs a Charity. 

Kween Cheryl Ladd is the boss of the Time Square Journal. (Which is confusingly locating in Rockefeller Plaza.)She wants her team to develop an article about Erik Gallarger’s charity, Never Stop Believing. He claims to get toys from Santa and offers “12 days of Christmas” free events for children in the city. Charity is assigned to write the essay because her blog is so successful, and she will have to go to the 12 Christmas events put on by Erik. When she calls to tell her dad, he calls her “Charity Robin Roberts Jones.” (We also learn that Charity’s mother recently passed away. Sad.) 

At the FIRST event, ice staking, Charity and Erik laugh about meeting at the newsstand and having to spend the next twelve days together. He asks her to write her Christmas wishes on a piece of paper, and Charity tells him that she doesn’t believe in Christmas magic, so don’t even try it. 

Meanwhile, Tisha continues to decorate the house and go on terrible dates. She meets a guy who tells her all about Aliens on the first date. 

The NEXT event is at the theater, remember those? Charity and Erik get to know one another better. Erik drops a letter on the floor when he rushes to take a call, and Charity reads it. It is from SANTA and explicitly says to destroy the message after reading. Charity takes a picture of it with her phone. When she shows the image to Boss Cheryl Ladd, the letter is blank. (Christmas Magic?)

To write her article, Charity interviews Erik’s long-time friend, who looks an awful lot like Santa. He tells her just to put herself into the Christmas spirit. The audio doesn’t record because Santa can’t be recorded. 

Ornament making happens, and Erik takes Charity for an outdoor picnic. (Is that a thing? We should probably do this in COVID times.) They are so cute. I love these actors and their chemistry. Charity finally gets the nerve to ask him the hard-hitting questions. Where does the money come from? Erik says he fundraises and delivers two million dollars worth of gifts from Kris Kringel and has been working with him since he was twelve. Charity doesn’t believe in Santa and promises to have her fact checker look into that one. He asks her to leave the Santa stuff out of the article.

Charity starts to believe in Christmas magic when she watches an active-duty soldier reunited with her family. The soldier gives Charity a reporter doll that she had always wanted since childhood. Floating on cloud nine, Charity invites Erik and his single father friend Aaron over to decorate their Christmas tree. Tisha and Aaron hit it off. So do Charity and Erik. They almost kiss while on a snowy walk, but Charity wants to keep things professional. Erik doesn’t seem to register what she is saying and asks her to be her date to the Mayor’s Christmas party. 

It’s halfway through the movie, and Charity finally starts writing. She sends a draft to Cheryl Ladd and plans the next blog post she has been neglecting. Cheryl Ladd hates the draft and tells Charity to get it together and focus on the cold hard facts. Charity is incredulous at the fact that she only has three days left to rework the story. 

Tisha, who turns out to be the fact-checker, learns that Erik was adopted. His rich ass biological parents have been donating the two million dollars to his charity annually. She reworks this into her new article. Cheryl Ladd doesn’t like it again and suggests making it more gossipy to sell magazines or newspapers? Whatever outdated medium. Charity quits on the spot and refuses to put her journalistic integrity on the line. For some reason, she doesn’t tell Erik. Tisha quits in solidarity with her friend. I love her. 

It is Christmas Eve; a blizzard is coming… not winter storm Megan… and the article is delayed from hitting newsstands. 

At the mayor’s Christmas Gala, Erik and Charity are dressed to the nines. They slow dance, and he asks her out on a real date. Erik almost says he is falling in love with her, and Charity is about to come clean when the mayor interrupts because she is pissed about the article. The article paints Erik in a bad light, and he accuses her of using him to get ahead in her career. 

Charity leaves the party and throws her Christmas wish on a fire. She wishes for forgiveness. Charity is comforted by her father, who knows she would never write a fluff piece. They go for a walk and run into a man named Frank and his wife Diane. He is the REAL friend of Erik. Charity realizes she was actually talking to SANTA. She rushes home and writes the true story about Erik on her blog. The post gets 20K view overnight.

It is Christmas Day and Charity heads to Central Park to find Erik. He read her blog and forgives her, exactly what she wished for. They kiss and are falling in love. Santa gives her a gift, it is her childhood letter she wrote with her mother. She also gets a job offer from the New York Times which she accepts. The end!

Side Note

Minority Report: Charity, Trish, Erik, Martin, Mayor, 

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Overall rating

🎄🎄🎄🎄(4 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)

*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime

Christmas Preview 2020 #3 (Lifetime Movies) Lifetime Uncorked

Patrick Serrano is here with your holiday TV movie preview. Sharla Hale and Drewbear are back to talk about the upcoming It's a Wonderful Lifetime Christmas offerings. This holiday season we will be doing a podcast advent calendar. Releasing a podcast episode every day starting Thanksgiving through Christmas! (Recorded October 19th) Read Patrick's reviews on our website: https://lifetimeuncorked.com/Check out other Universehead Podcasts: https://www.universehead.com/ Donate to Drewbears go FundMe: https://gf.me/u/y6unkq Donate to the Podcast: Ko-fi.com/patrickserrano Subscribe to our Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYuQwUKBmS2MouRnVhRLyig Rate and Review us! (With emojis, please!)  Follow the Podcast @LifetimeUncorked Follow the Host @PatrickMiguel Follow the Producer @DrewButWithPants Theme Music provided by @jwheeler_music of the band @ModernDaybreakBand Candace Cameron Bure Theme provided by: @BradKempMusic — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/lifetime-uncorked/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/lifetime-uncorked/support
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4 Comments

  1. Did they show what Cheryl Ladd’s character wrote for her Chrisman wish? II thought she would have her wish come true and be redeemed and feel remorseful but I don’t think there were any more scenes with her. I know it’s just a small part of the story, but did I miss something?

  2. Patrick, I just watched this movie. Thank you for covering it. I found it to be pretty GOOD for a TV Christmas flik when the genre is so overworked.

    As Erik, actor Marco Grazzini is not only perpetually handsome and smiley, he actually is wonderfully reactive, and emotes in a believable way. As you say, the two stars have great chemistry, and believable well crafted dialogue. I hope they do another one next year!

    Update: It never gets established or proven that Erik’s biological parents are funding the multi-million toy and gift giveaway. And because it is not proven, Charity does not include the theory in her article. That’s why her editor boss Cheryl Ladd is pissed the second time around. Charity’s refusal to include that unproven theory, and to stick to her guns, is why she has the courage to quit. As does her pal Trish. Neither want to work for a company that does not value compassion.

    At the end of the film, we see editor Cherl Ladd having second thoughts. She is not all evil. She is seen reading up on Erik and his foundation. She has certainly read the morning Blog that Charity wrote. Her otherwise cold heart is melting, and she does decide to write her wish on the magic paper, which she puts up to her heart before closing it up. It is implied that she has her moment of redemption, even though we do not know what she wrote.

    In the nighttime outdoor picnic in the winter park, Erik asks Charity not to write about his parents. He doesn’t ask her not to write about Santa. He wants people to believe in Santa and promotes her writing about Santa being the source of the gifts, and moreover, that Christmas is about believing, and about love. But his feeling abandoned by his parents, even now, is not something he feels the need to make public, and though he shares that truth with Charity, he asks her not to make that public, and she agrees and says he can trust her with that. When her article comes out, seemingly written by her, claiming his parents fund everything, that is why he feels betrayed.

    In these crazy pandemic and wacky politics times, it feels good to see a movie that shares some upbeat values. Erik praises Charity’s parents, a teacher and a nurse, for choosing professions that required deep patience and compassion. Erik shares the kind of holiday spirit that gives people hope. He wants to bring magic and hope to as many people as he can, so people don’t have to feel alone. He says Christmas is about making special memories, and that even though things are so expensive during the holidays, he wants to make at least some things a little easier on them, and free, so people can focus on creating new and warm memories. He does not want their economic status get in the way of enjoying the magic of the season.

    Charity says to Erik that she notices that he has never lost that part of himself that truly believes that anything is possible. When it seems that he is about to tell her ( or lecture to her ) what the true meaning of Christmas is, he surprises her by telling her the answer is simple: it is love. The film emphasizes that priceless outcomes can happen, and that not everything must have a monetary value assigned to it. The movie suggests that Santa is alive and well, as much as a spirit of generosity, as he is also alive in each of us.

    The themes show us that a cynical person would look for the scandal and analyze the numbers and focus just on profits, or “dirt” on people to be circulated to the masses. But in contrast to the perspective of a cynic, the film suggests that for Christmas, we can focus on experiences, on being in the moment, with someone you care about, and enjoying simple pleasures like a cup of hot chocolate, or a walk in a snowy park, or a holiday movie classic.

    We see that not everything has to be about facts and what adds up. If we believe, and lean into what is unexplainable. A little bit of kindness and love have the power to give people hope, and make the seemingly impossible possible.

    In contrast to so much else that is out there in the media these days, something like this movie is a like a star on a tree top, on an otherwise dark night.

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