This undemanding fairytale of a film seems to almost be a Hollywood take on the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” and stars Katherine Helmond as the delightfully names Mrs Mutterance.
Well, “Widow” Mutterance to be accurate. Directed by Gus Trikonis and released in 1986, the story is that of Widow Mutterance’s Christmas, which threatens to be ruined from the outset by the fact that her landlord, Snyder (a glorious performance by the much missed Sid Ceaser) who lives on the floor above Mutterance’s candy store. Sales have been in decline and he has decided to clear her out and turn the place into a Laundromat. As you do. Naturally, in true Scrooge form, no amount of heartfelt pleading from Mutterance and her two children makes the slightest bit of difference to Snyder but then one glorious day, with the first fall of snow, Snyder disappears….While the kids are delighted at that apparent stroke of luck, Widow Mutterance finds that her innate good nature won’t let even Snyder be lost out in the snow and they undertake a search for him. It’s all very Christmassy and exactly what the family audience it is intended for should expect from the source material.
Katherine Helmond is given every chance to express her comedy talents in this charming little film (it’s only 45 minutes long) as does Sid Ceasar who is of course, always a joy to watch. They are absolutely opposite sides of the coin, Mutterance is positive, upbeat and cheerful, a glass half full person epitomised by the cheery décor and lighting of her beloved sweet shop. Snyder on the other hand acts exactly as his name sounds, miserable, downbeat and positively refusing to see any mind of silver lining to any situation. Amy and Wallace, the kids, played by Melissa Joan Hart and Kimble joiner are both tolerable and don’t make fools of themselves as so often happens in this kind of film. The real star however is the setting which is Christmas card perfect, especially when the snow first falls. Perfect for the days leading up to Christmas and something that will occupy the minds of both kids and adults.
Director: Gus Trikonis
Writer: Paul Theroux (story)
Stars: Katherine Helmond, Sid Caesar and Melissa Joan Hart
Release Date: 1986