They watched Vanna White play a statue that came to life, so why not Olivia Newton-John as a living, breathing mannequin?
Suffice it to say we're not talking "Pygmalion" by George Bernard Shaw. "A Mom for Christmas," an NBC movie that will be on Channel 2 (WMAR) at 9 o'clock tonight, is a too-sweet cupful of tinsel-strength holiday froth made from a bit of "Cinderella," a -- of "Pinocchio" and a spoonful of "Mary Poppins."
Jessica's mother died when the girl was 3. When her fairy godmother spots the lonely preteen, played by Juliet Sorcey, wandering a department store, she grants the child's wish for a Mom for the holidays, bringing a mannequin to life but only until midnight on Christmas.
Olivia's character of Amy -- dressed in duds that still have the price tags -- shows up at home where hard-working Dad (Doug Sheehan) hardly has time for Jessica, much less Christmas. He's quickly smitten, natch, with the pretty applicant for the conveniently open nanny's job.
Various misadventures result, some from Amy's naive ways about living and breathing, but most from the ability of all the store's mannequins to come to life for a few hours a night. They try to help out Amy and Jessica, avoiding the cynical house detective who provides the story's Grinch.
The film tries earnestly to get your heart warm enough to roast some chestnuts, but it's hard to kindle a fire with such banal and predictable fuel.
Ultimately, "A Mom for Christmas" fails because in trying to create a magical world among the mannequins it forgets to deliver any holiday messages about the importance of Moms and Dads and family.
"A Mom for Christmas"
* A young girl's wish for a mother at Christmas comes true when a department store mannequin comes to life.
CAST: Olivia Newton-John, Doug Sheehan
TIME: 9 o'clock tonight
CHANNEL: NBC Channel 2 (WMAR)