Who's the Santa
Jack Clayton (Tony Danza - Doing Life) is a career criminal whoalmost gets caught robbing a department store but manages to sneak away disguised in a Santa costume, whilst his partner in crime flees in another direction. Having fled the scene Jack takes the bus to a small town where he finds himself being employed by Sarah Gibson (Lea Thompson - The Christmas Clause) which Jack thinks is perfect as it gives him time to case the town before robbing the bank on Christmas Eve. But whilst Sarah's would be boyfriend is suspicious of him, and makes it clear he doesn't like Jack, something happens to Jack as he grows close to Sarah and warms to the kindly Emily Sutton (Betty White - The Lost Valentine) who runs a nearby nostalgic Christmas shop. When Jack's partner in crime shows up it puts even more pressure on him as he struggles over what to do.
I gave more away in that synopsis for "Stealing Christmas" than I normally would but then it is a Christmas movie and it follows a formula which serves up little in the way of surprises. As such we get all the typical elements; the crook with corrupt plans finding some Christmas spirit in a small town, the widowed single mum with the moody teenager which means both bonding and romance is on the cards. Then there is the jealous guy with the hots for the single mum trying to stir up trouble and we even get a sweet little old lady with a mischievous glint in her eye. I don't think I left anything out from the list of what is expected but "Stealing Christmas" does add an interesting element as the small town is struggling because of a nearby mall and Jack knows how to fight malls.
The thing is that whilst "Stealing Christmas" is just one long procession of Christmas cliches with some generic TV movie cliches chucked in for good measure it still works. It has the right sort of characters, the right amount, and sort ,of humour and in truth the right choice of actors for this type of movie. Tony Danza has that aspect about him which means he is convincing as a comical yet tough talking city crook but when he turns around and becomes a nice guy he has charm and likeability going in his favour. At the same time you have Lea Thompson who is fun as a bossy mum and in control business woman who gets what she wants but behind it all is that expected softer side. Plus there is the wonderful Betty White playing what can only be classed as a typical Betty White role but you don't mind because that Betty White Charm is dynamite.
What this all boils down to is that "Stealing Christmas" has no surprises what so ever and delivers nothing you won't have seen before. But it works through the formula well enough with enjoyable characters and an enjoyable cast along with the essential ingredient of a bit of Christmas magic. In fact "Stealing Christmas" has more than just Christmas magic it also has the feel good spirit which helps you get in to the mood for Christmas and more importantly more Christmas movies.