The Santa Stakeout is a refreshing addition to this year's Hallmark Countdown to Christmas series. This entertaining buddy cop comedy, with a touch of romance, strays a bit from your standard Hallmark Christmas romance/romantic comedy. Indeed, the comedy overshadows the romance for much of the movie. The story revolves around two Denver police detectives Tanya (played by Tamera Mowry-Housley) and Ryan (played by Paul Campbell). Tanya, a rookie who recently arrived from Wisconsin, is an ambitious and well-organized detective who is looking to prove herself, while Ryan, who is a bit of a slob, is a seasoned detective that works from his gut. These unlikely pair are teamed up together to solve a string of holiday art heists that have swept the city. They go undercover as newlyweds and stake out their primary suspect Francis (played by Joe Pantoliano),who is known as Mr. Christmas in the community. As they investigate and go deeper undercover, they soon realize that the magic of the holiday season in the company of Mr. Christmas and the neighborhood is more enjoyable than they anticipated, so too is each other's company. The script is well-written with some good banter and dialogue between Tanya and Ryan. The detective work and mystery are what one would expect from this genre of movie (and Hallmark): light and uncomplicated. The writers too try to develop a bit of neighborly Christmas spirit via Francis, a rehabilitated ex-convict. Indeed, there were some touching scenes and dialogue sprinkled here and there throughout the movie. Though entertaining, I never found myself having an actual laughing-out-loud moment, as the humor was a bit light for my taste. The acting was strong, overall. Campbell, one of Hallmark's regulars, performs well in such roles. In 2020, he had an impressive performance in Hallmark's Christmas by Starlight. Though not as strong of a performance as last year, he was entertaining and engaging nonetheless here. Mowry-Housley also had a very good performance, I thought, injecting a bit of mystery and joy into the story. But it was the banter between the two that made this one work, I felt. That said, I was not completely convinced by their chemistry (i.e., the romance between the two),I'm afraid, as this never fully developed on screen. As such, it seemed forced at the end. This, of course, is partly due to the dominance of the comedic element of the script, as noted above. The supporting cast was great. Pantoliano is particularly good as the Santa suspect. The movie has a lot of the classic Hallmark Christmas spirit with several Christmas celebration scenes. The music in this one was well done, adding to the comedy and the Christmas vibe of the movie. All in all, this is a light-hearted, fun, yet warm, Christmas movie. If you are looking for something different this holiday season, then The Santa Stakeout might be what you are looking for.
The Santa Stakeout
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Romance
The Santa Stakeout
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Romance
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Rookie Denver PD Detective Tanya Morris, having just moved from Wisconsin, and veteran Detective Ryan Anderson are like oil and water, the biggest of their differences being that Tanya works on evidence before coming to a conclusion while Ryan works on gut feelings. With a week before Christmas, they are partnered on a case of three thus far high end art thefts at major galleries, reluctantly partnered on their end in their differences. Their chief suspect is Francis Miller, who does have a rap sheet and who had worked at each gallery just before the thefts as the Christmas party Santa Claus. Noticing that the house next to his is for rent, they decide to conduct a quiet stakeout of him based out of that house. However, that quiet nature is disrupted when they are spotted by people in the neighborhood, meaning that they have to integrate themselves into the community, they going undercover as newlyweds. What's worse in both their minds is that they believe the best way to watch Miller in plain sight is to be part of his Christmas Committee, which opens up another of the fundamental differences between Tanya and Ryan: Tanya loves everything about Christmas, she who would have spent Christmas on her own this year out of circumstance, while Ryan sees it solely as another day to watch football games with his buddies. In the process, they begin to have mixed feelings about Miller and the Committee: while he does exhibit suspicious behavior, they also see some true Christmas spirit in him, the Committee and his work as Santa. As a result, they come to some understandings of themselves in their dealings with him and with each other regardless of his guilt or innocence.
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Staking out Mr. Christmas...
It's got a kick to it
Hallmark's best funny man, Paul Campbell, is back and he delivers the goods again. Here, he plays a sort of egotistical slob of a police detective who is forced to live together with an up-and-coming new detective, played by Tamara Mowry-Housley. They rent a house in a very friendly neighborhood as they go undercover to spy on a suspected thief who plays Santa at Christmas events. Guess Campbell can't do every Hallmark movie with his frequent co-star, Kimberley Sustad, but the always good Mowry-Housley is an excellent substitute for Sustad. She takes on her role with energy and heart and seems to really be enjoying the opportunity to act with Campbell. The story is well-written and different from the usual Hallmark fare, a witty blend of charm and mystery, that keeps your interest throughout, particularly because the two leads are so much fun to watch as they develop a relationship that is ultimately very endearing. The production is top notch and the supporting cast does their best to keep us entertained. Joe Pantoliano is particularly good as the Santa suspect. This may turn out to be the best of Hallmark's Christmas movies for the new season - but it will be interesting to see if "Nine Kittens of Christmas", Sustad's long-awaited sequel to "Nine Lives of Christmas", can top it when it debuts on Thanksgiving Day. In any event, this is a good story played by some really talented and charming actors.
We loved all the actors, just not together. Paul is always funny but I didn't find him hit the mark in this movie as much. I can't believe Joe Pantiliano was in this! Movie was very slow. There were very few funny parts. If you know anything about HM murder mystery movies that you know the killer isn't always who it seems. The leads acted well but didn't seem to really connect like usual HM xmas movies do. We did like how it wasn't a typical xmas movie though.