ABC Family film Christmas Caper is a pretty well-made if toothless romp that’s shamelessly copying the main plot of Uncle Buck and the sub-plot of Home Alone. My guess is screenwriter April Blair was haunted by John Candy for the entirety of writing this.
Cate is just your friendly neighbourhood jewel thief who’s looking to hide out following a disastrous heist (least of all because the jewel they’re trying to swipe is a pink teardrop which looks like you could buy it from QVC for forty dollars. Steal smarter, Cate!). Luckily, her sister Savannah has made the terrible decision to go to the Bahamas days before Christmas and is now stuck there. Cate’s off to babysit her niece and nephew in Comfort, USA!
Cate has to look after nephew Parker (or Hunter? A name for a pen or a car)- he’s wayward!- and small niece Annie who is a snitch. All the while there’s a Christmas party to organise, that cheap-looking gem to recover, a preppy schoolfriend to comfort, and a love interest in the form of town sheriff and old flame Hank.
Hank the cop. Hank the cop who jokes about being trigger happy. Hank the cop who jokes about being trigger happy and mimes shooting loads of people. ACAB, baby!
The film is keen to gently nudge the idea that everyone is complex. Hank is a cop you can smooch. Annie is a little killjoy, dressed as a teeny tiny Conservative, but asks Santa for universal healthcare. Yes, inevitably Cate comes good and decides to return the town’s presents about five minutes after stealing them. Her heart grows two sizes I’m sure.
The film skimps on set (nearly every other scene is shot in a furniture shop where her mate Duffy works) and also loves to recycle dialogue. Cate’s catchphrase is a snarky, “now THAT’s x”. Cf. “now THAT’s entertainment”, “now THAT’s assaulting an officer”.
Look, it’s fine to pop this on in the background but it won’t change your life. It is a humble joy to see the elements of the film that firmly root it in 2007. A flip phone! A fashion poncho! The orange colour-scheme of a film poster that is so unmistakably Spider-Man 2. Ah, to be a young teen again, watching Sam Raimi sequels.
Rating: Ho and a half/HoHoHo