2 December 2003 | vchimpanzee
Peter Falk was great; needed more of him
Kathleen is a divorced nurse who lives with her mother. Her hospital's emergency room may have to close because of a $100,000 deficit. And her brother Hank has been missing for 25 years, but one day she believes she sees his picture on the front page of the Bay City Tribune. Noah, who took the picture, is curious about why the man wearing part of a Santa Claus suit is missing from the picture.
After the man in the picture saves someone's life, the newspaper makes finding 'John Christmas' a priority, offering a $50,000 reward. Kathleen, who is also organizing a talent show fund-raiser for the hospital, wants to find the man as well. She meets Noah, who has a 12-year-old daughter, Socorro (Jennifer Pisana), who is a good singer and likes Kathleen (and her father is single!).
And then there is the second mystery man, the one whose image did not appear in the photo. He keeps showing up, playing a different role each time. But no one has ever heard of the security guard at the fire station (he's also a janitor at the hospital, among other things). Eventually, we find out his name is Max.
Peter Falk was wonderful as Max, though he wasn't on very much. He reminded me a lot of Lt. Columbo in his mannerisms and speaking style. One of the movie's highlights was a duet between Max and Socorro which was not part of the talent show, but should have been. And Jennifer Pisana is quite a singer, and not a bad actor. Of course, Valerie Bertinelli is always good, though not great. I've liked her ever since 'One Day at a Time'. Her character is quite idealistic and believes anything is possible, even if obstacles get in the way.
The film is occasionally funny. One of the people trying out for the talent show is a surgeon who juggles the tools of his trade. Overall, though, this is a feel-good movie despite some depressing moments, and some situations that are just plain upsetting. The end result is a good movie about the holiday season.