Lifetime is trying its hand at a whimsical enemies to lovers with holiday romance movie Merry Magic Christmas. Led by Patricia Isaac and Andrew Dunbar, the title follows a numbers-savvy woman and an artsy man’s transition from reluctant partnership to something more with a little help from some family, friends, and Christmas magic. Though Merry Magic Christmas doesn’t do much to lift up women in STEM, perhaps it at least manages to establish a compelling romance? Read on to find out.
The Gist: Competent and hardworking financial planner Beth McKay (Patricia Isaac) has created a satisfying life for herself. She wakes up every day at 6:30am, rides five miles on her stationary bike, makes breakfast, and then begins her workday. She owns her own home and seems to have it all… except romance. But that just might change when she agrees to help her sister, Kat (Aadila Dosani), as a volunteer with the local children’s theater to help with their finances, putting her in direct contact with the theater’s founder, Nate Matthews (Andrew Dunbar).
Nate has no faith or trust in “bean counters” and “pencil pushers,” and is initially obstinate and difficult with Beth despite her best efforts to sincerely help him keep his business afloat. Still, Beth refuses to give up, especially when her beloved niece Riley (Mela Pietropaolo) is the theater’s upcoming production of A Christmas Carol as Scrooge and has fallen in love with acting. As Beth does what it takes to get through to Nate, she’s also haunted by a recurring number, “624,” which first appeared to her on the back of a fortune cookie when out to dinner with her friend, web designer and “certified medium” Coley (Corey Woods).
Does this so-called “angel number” somehow play a part in granting Beth her heart’s desire, and can she manage to find that in Nate? Or will their differences end up completely ruining their romantic future, as well as the theater’s.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: It’s like the wish and saving a local town’s holiday aspect of recent Hallmark release Rescuing Christmas, plus the repetition aspect of 1993 fantasy comedy Groundhog Day (the latter of which is actually mentioned in this movie).
Performance Worth Watching: Out of anyone, it had to be Patricia Isaac as Beth McKay. Not only did she absolutely carry the movie on her back, but her character also manages to stay resilient in the face of being told she “only cares about numbers” by seemingly everyone she knows. Justice for Beth, she deserves better!
Memorable Dialogue: “Wow, you are like a calculator in heels.” “Thank you.”
Honorable mention for “Adding a little jingle to your tingle?” I don’t know what that means and frankly, I don’t want to,. It’s haunting enough as it is.
A Holiday Tradition: It seems to be a tradition for Nate to put on a production of A Christmas Carol at his children’s theater every holiday season since he opened the place up seven years ago.
Does the Title Make Any Sense?: Not really. I guess it’s magic because of the fortune cookie? Or the magic of love? I don’t know, whatever it is, it feels a bit like a stretch.
Our Take: Merry Magic Christmas doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Maybe it’s just because it doesn’t do a ton to really demand the viewer’s attention so my mind slightly wandered, but I’m pretty sure that the whole “624” thing was ultimately unnecessary to the plot of the movie. Like what was the repetition of that number besides just a “magical” gimmick? The number or fortune cookie didn’t make love happen for Beth, she made it happen by bending over backwards for a guy that didn’t deserve it. Seriously, Nate is kind of infuriating, and Beth is way too good for him!
Nate is an obstinate fool. No matter how much we creative types may wish it weren’t so, we have to admit that the arts are a business just like anything else, so a theater needs someone with some sort of business savvy and financial plan in order to survive. Beth is helping Nate out for FREE while he’s being childish and naive. And he keeps kind of roasting and negging her, which isn’t very cute. Like about how she folds and eat pizza. She doesn’t need to hear that coming from you, a man who eats pizza CRUST TO TIP. That’s absolutely unhinged behavior, and also just sounds needlessly difficult. Which is perhaps fitting, because it seems to be Nate’s M.O. to make things way harder than they have to be.
Beth is bending over backwards to help Nate save his theater, coming up with ways to fundraise on a short notice, because in the seven years he has owned the place, he has never once thought to do this for himself. After all, it’s “the magic of theater” and “it will all be fine.” Sir, you are a fully grown man, how have you gotten by living this way?! Even towards the end of the movie, he somehow hasn’t learned his lesson, exemplified by him hiding from Beth that be got a “Final Notice” for $3,500 for the theater’s lease, which he has still left unpaid. Did you learn nothing from this upstanding, lively, and intelligent woman, Nate? Why do you keep brushing her off, saying she worries too much or only cares about numbers?
She clearly cares a lot about the people around her to put herself through this BS. We need to be lifting up women in STEM, not calling them calculators in heels! Which her best friend Coley called her, by the way. Some friend. Not only does Nate not deserve Beth, but it seems that her friend(s? Or maybe it’s just Coley and her sister) aren’t worthy of her either. So as you can see, this isn’t really a love story you root for, nor is it a plot that really makes the viewer feel very invested. I want Beth to be happy and stop seeing “624” everywhere, but can’t she find that contentment with someone who’s not Nate? Because a future where she’s paying all his bills and giving him a cushy life doesn’t sound much like “merry magic” to me.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Unless you want to get mad watching an underserving guy who eats pizza like a madman score a gal way out of his league, then it’s probably best to avoid Merry Magic Christmas.