Mrs. Miracle Review

Every Christmas, a malevolent force seeks out an unruly family - it then burrows into their hearts and souls, echoing their most disquieting fears, lurking underneath the skin, corrupting the victims from within. They call it Mrs. Miracle (Doris Roberts)...because it is truly miraculous for anyone to come away unscathed. Will Seth Webster (James Van Der Beek), recently widowed dad of two, be able to withstand the temptations of this unstoppable evil? Or will he succumb to Mrs. Miracle and her agent of lust, Reba Maxwell (Erin Karpluk)?

Now that I’ve (hopefully) gotten your attention, allow me to dispel any expectations you may have had - my description is far from the truth. Mrs. Miracle, based on the Debbie Macomber novel of the same name, is calculated and sweetly poised to stop just short of giving you diabetes. This is Hallmark production and it will carry that burden on its flighty shoulders for the entire 90-odd minute running time.

I’m no less guilty than any jaded movie watcher in juggling equal parts cynicism and untapped sentimentality that is stretched taut, ready to be hit by that unexpectedly moving motion picture. Mrs. Miracle is not that movie, but not for lack of trying. Ms. Roberts fills the shoes of Mrs. Merkle, a nanny/housekeeper not unlike a wrinkly Marry Poppins. Whether she manages to get Seth’s unruly hellions under control or contrive a chance meeting between Seth and Reba is irrelevant - if you came to this film for a delicious twist, you are frankly in need of serious help and your TV and DVD player should be taken away from you and locked away in a secure location to recover from the abuse they have suffered over the years.

You may note the relatively high score while reading my disparaging of this film - I promise I can explain. Like the great and noble Roger Ebert, who gave 2 Fast 2 Furious the same score as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I can acknowledge that there are multiple film genres and approaches to filmmaking, and dammit if director Michael Scott (whose name will forever be intertwined with a character on a sub-par stateside interpretation of a brilliant show) doesn’t know his TV tropes. Van Der Beek, Maxwell and of course Roberts are all advanced veterans of serial television and more than carry their own - Van Der Beek in particular brings the requisite degree of the damaged male forever ridden with stubble, and hoping to overcome his many, many issues. Mrs. Miracle generally feels like a comfortable fit for the cast and no one slacks off as a result - you won’t see superstar emoting but you’ll never feel that Van Der Beek and crew are sleepwalking through it.

Mrs. Miracle’s good tidings conflict with its seemingly arbitrary release date in mid-November, but that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t work its lighthearted magic with all the charm of a snake oil salesman. It never takes the viewer for an idiot, only a sap, and as someone who teared up at the end of the far superior Toy Story 3, who am I to judge? Well yes, I am a DVD reviewer/critic, but also a human being and I will not disparage either the holiday or the inherent choice to milk it commercially. In the end, picking Mrs. Miracle over heavier and headier fare is not the cardinal sin we geeks make it out to be - just a chance encounter and a warm embrace under the expansive wing of the great entertainment machine.

DVD Bonus Features

A massive 3-hour "making of" featurette that explores hidden facets and the liberal use of CGI in the film? Nope, just some trailers. That’s it.

"Mrs. Miracle" is on sale November 16, 2010 and is not rated. Comedy, Drama, Romance, Television. Directed by Michael Scott. Written by David Golden (teleplay), Debbie Macomber (book). Starring Doris Roberts, Erin Karpluk, James Van Der Beek.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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