Reporting for Christmas follows intrepid reporter Mary Romero (Tamara Feldman) as she travels Heart of Darkness-style to a sleepy Iowa town for a story on the Mistletoads, a popular Christmas toy produced by the local Johnson Toys company.
Unfortunately for Romero, hunky Johnson Toys heir, Blake Johnson (Matt Trudeau)—with his salt and pepper hair, endless supply of vests, and eyes like two collapsing stars—is here to thwart her attempts to dismantle the Mistletoads industrial complex. Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” may as well be playing full blast in the background when the two first lock eyes 15ish minutes in. It isn’t long before Johnson’s down-to-earth, “you city folk have never had to choose between two nice vests” gumption erodes Romero’s tough exterior enough for her to commit multiple journalism ethics violations. Christmas ensues.
Shot in Chicago, Long Grove, and Woodstock—seemingly on an iPad—Reporting keeps its Christmas rom-com-story-beats bingo card close. It’s got a militant soundtrack with a vendetta against any time not filled by Christmas music, dialogue scenes included. There are multiple confusing moments, including a running joke (?) where a scene will end by holding on characters just eating food in silence for a few seconds until one of them makes a comment about said food, which feels almost Lynchian.
Easy targets for cheap shots are plentiful, but honestly, this is fine. It’s inoffensive Christmas movie shenanigans, and it’s breezy at 80 minutes. The cast does a solid job, and a handful of jokes are so gosh-darn close to landing, you just root for ’em. There’s a running theme of “integrity over profit” that’s hard to argue with (Northwestern film studies students should submit their Marxist reading of Reporting for Christmas by the end of tomorrow’s lecture), and the film would be right at home in a marathon of fast food Christmas flicks. Still, there are much better Christmas stories to cover. 86 min.