Talk about an identity crisis- less than a minute into Holiday Help a title screen tells me it’s actually called Santa’s Secret. Make up your minds, lads.
The plot is a bit too real and sad to be laughable: single mum Nicky is laid off and is over-qualified in all the jobs she’s applying for, plus her adorable daughter needs expensive tutoring on her reading. I’m a bit too concerned to mock for a few scenes but luckily things do pick up, so I can pick on.
A friend suggests applying for seasonal work at a department store names Cartwright’s (at which point I realise the film is also called Christmas at Cartwright’s. That’s now three separate titles for this film, which is TWO TITLES TOO MANY. It’s also not to be confused with the nigh-on identical film, Christmas in the City. That is another sad department store film.)
Luckily Rex from Toy Story locks Nicky in a closet so now she’s the store Santa because that’s how job interviews go.
We follow a classic double-life plot from here in out, where Santa Nicky becomes a hit with the kids and regular Nicky navigates dates with the head of menswear. Think Shakespearean cross-dressing comedy but with less memorable dialogue and a cute child actor.
Nicky’s daughter is super sweet but really needs to work on her priorities. A six year old who preferences tutelage (okay, I
used to be am a big nerd too, I’m allow it) and is obsessed with setting her mum up with somebody?
Also: everybody accepts this new Santa at face value, even though Rex from Toy Story does not work at Cartwright’s. Seriously, nobody’s like “ho ho hold up, is Santa DBS checked?” Scary stuff.
Overall, Secret Holiday Help at Cartwright’s is pretty dull. It certainly picks up when love interest Bill asks Santa Nicky if there’s a Mrs Claus and it definitely seems like he’s hitting on Nicky’s alter ego, but then he isn’t and I resume yawn stance.