tek's rating: ¾

A Mom for Christmas, on NBC
Christmas Specials Wiki; Disney Movies; IMDb; Made for TV Movie Wiki; TV Tango; Wikipedia

Caution: potential spoilers.

This aired in 1990, and I think it was one of the first things I remember watching in the time slot that had, until recently, been occupied by The Wonderful World of Disney. (It aired on NBC in the U.S., but since I didn't get that network at the time, I watched it on CBC, which is where I always watched that anthology series.) So, I think it was also one of the first things to make me feel maybe it wasn't so bad that the series was over, since it didn't mean there'd be no more Disney TV movies. And it can kind of (unofficially) be considered a part of that series, I think. (Then again, maybe it just reinforced my regret that the show had been cancelled, or maybe it just confused me. I really don't remember.) In any event, I think the second time I ever watched it was when I got it on DVD in 2012.

So... the movie is about an 11-year-old girl named Jessica Slocum, whose mother had died when she was three years old, and whose father now had little time for her. When she wins a wish from a wishing well (in a department store that I think was called Millerman's) just before Christmas, she wishes for a mom. And so, a mannequin (played by Olivia Newton-John) was brought to life, and answered an ad for a nanny or whatever, which her dad had been thinking of placing, but didn't (kinda like Mary Poppins). Um... actually, I guess the mannequin was sort of brought to life by a woman named Philomena, who worked at the store (played by Doris Roberts). The wish was only supposed to last until midnight on Christmas Eve, though I'm not sure when exactly it started. Sometime in December, anyway. It's kind of weird, 'cause all the mannequins at the store come to life for a couple hours each night, anyway. There's a bit of a subplot about them being slowly phased out in favor of more modern-art type mannequins that really don't look human at all (which don't come to life).

Anyway, the one that became Jessica's sort-of-mom called herself Amy Miller. (All the mannequins have first names, but she apparently chose the name "Miller" for herself because of the name of the store, unless I misheard the name of the store.) Meanwhile, there was a cop named Morelli, who was on vacation for a couple weeks or whatever, so he spent his time working security in the store (you know, as vacationing cops do). There had apparently been a rash of shoplifting lately, I guess? And then obviously one of the store's mannequins (Amy) went missing, along with some clothes. So of course he'll eventually figure out that Amy and possibly Jess are responsible for the thefts. But Amy had also gotten a job at the store, and used her paycheck to secretly pay for the clothes she'd taken. Not that Morelli cared about that. Well, there are various subplots going on, the main one being Jess's dad falling in love with Amy, and Amy helping him learn to reconnect with his daughter (whom he'd been sort of ignoring since his wife's death eight years ago), although as disconnected dads go, they seemed remarkably close even before Amy showed up. Another subplot was about some kids who frequently teased Jess for reasons that are not particularly clear to me. But she only really had one friend (who doesn't have a lot of screen time). And there was a boy Jess had a crush on; he hung out with the kids who teased her, though he seemed vaguely displeased by the way they treated her, even if he never actually defended her. Not a whole lot is done with that subplot, either.

Um... not sure what else to say. Amy seemed pretty nice, though there were lots of things she didn't really understand about being alive, and interacting with real humans. Which of course provides some corny humor, and also she unwittingly causes some problems, which I won't go into detail about. Though for a little while Jess was mad at her, which I think is kind of appropriate... it made the mother-daughter relationship a bit more realistic. Anyway... eventually Jess wants to keep Amy, instead of having to give her up when the wish is over. I won't say how that turns out. But the whole movie is fairly... soft. Even when genuinely bad things happen, the movie has pretty much no edge at all. Which is okay. Not all movies need edge. Oh, I should probably also mention that there was a sort of school Christmas play at one point, in which Jess had a prominent part. Lest we forget this is a Christmas movie. Anyway... not a great movie, but it was reasonably pleasant, I guess.

holiday TV movies index
TV nostalgia