The Santa Squad is a 2020 Lifetime movie originally airing on December 7, 2020. It stars Aaron Ashmore (Locke & Key, Designator Survivor) and Rebecca Dalton (Spun Out) in the main roles. It was written by Mark Valenti and directed by John Bradshaw.
Allie (Rebecca Dalton) is an out-of-work art teacher who ends up taking a job as a kind of “elf” at a business called The Santa Squad. The business helps people out by shopping, decorating and helping people do things during the holidays they don’t have time for. Allie’s client is the Church family, led by patriarch and single-father Gordon Church (Ashmore) who lives in a huge house with his two daughters and needs help decorating.
On Allie’s first day, she meets Gordon’s girlfriend, Kimmee (Paniz Zade) who is very unfriendly and can’t stand to even look at Allie. She also meets Church’s assistant, Daniel (Michael Therriault) who gives a wonderful performance. She also meets the two daughters Rose and Iris (Hattie Kragten and Molly Lewis) who immediately take a liking to Allie. The girls explain they aren’t allowed to touch the ornaments so they can’t help Allie with the tree, and they aren’t used to doing “normal” Christmas-time activities. Allie decides to use her job with The Santa Squad to teach them about Christmas and how fun the holiday can be.
Allie takes the girls on outings, including the senior activity center where she used to work, where the girls meet Bill (Roger Dunn) and Connie (Jayne Eastwood.) The elderly pair seem to have a thing for each other however neither one of them wants to let the other one know. Allie tries to involve Gordon in more and more of the activities with the girls, much to the dismay of Kimmee, who eventually is shown the door when she tells Gordon her intentions to move in and sending the kids to a boarding school.
This might seem the prime time for Gordon and Allie to hit it off, but an accidental fire in the kitchen causes Gordon to fire Allie. But it doesn’t last very long, as Gordon sees the error of his ways. A scary hospital visit by Bill brings everybody together at the hospital, and Gordon and Allie make up and everybody spends Christmas together.
In terms of production quality, The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime are worlds apart. Where I have come to expect an overall good film from Hallmark, Lifetime on the other hand continues to disappoint. Zade’s over-the-top portrayal of Kimmie is ludicrous, as are the scenes between Bill and Connie.
Quality control is severely lacking in the film. If you look closely enough, you can routinely see the microphone in the shot reflected in the senior center’s windows. In addition, the portrayal of both of the Church children is awkward at times. The film start off incredibly slow as we are introduced to Allie’s character at the senior center, and it takes almost half an hour before we are comfortable enough to give the film a try. The one bright spot in the film is the portrayal of assistant Daniel by Michael Therriault. He is both loyal to Church but can see what is going on around him and gives Allie just enough encouragement to keep trying.
Unlike many of the Christmas movies I have watched this season, I could honestly say I would pass on ever seeing this film again and cannot recommend it, even if you are a fan of the Christmas/Romance genre.