The Search for Secret Santa (2022) Movie Script

Give it to me.
Hi, I'm looking for Mr. McCoy,
the landlord.
He's not here.
Did you call about the apartment?
- Yes, I did. I'm Sophia Meyer.
- I'm the caretaker of this old place.
Name's Ernst Theodor Ammadiss.
But everyone just calls me Ernie.
Mr. McCoy told me
to show you the place.
- Just you?
- Yeah, just me.
It's just the apartment's
on the tiny side.
Well, I'm just looking for a place
to land for the holiday,
so "tiny" is just
another word for... cozy.
Cozy! I like that.
Well, let's go take a peek
at your cozy apartment.
This building is beautiful.
Vintage bones.
It was built
over a hundred years ago.
We're like a big family here,
so feel free to use this common area.
- Hey, guys.
- Hi.
- Hey.
- I'm a bit of a baking nut.
I... I share my latest creations
with tea every afternoon.
Ernie, these are delicious.
I think they're giving me
a little edge in this card game.
- Hi, Esther.
- Hi.
- Let's go check out the apartment.
- Great.
- Lovely to meet you all.
- See you around.
You know, it's fully furnished.
That's actually great,
'cause I don't even own a...
It is so legitimate cozy,
not just tiny cozy.
- How soon can I move in?
- Move in now if you want.
Nancy! Hi! I want you to meet Ernie,
the caretaker of the property.
Ernie, I want you to meet Nancy,
one half of my two best friends.
My other half Laura
is away on business.
Hi, half of besties.
Okay, so I love it.
What do you think?
- Be honest.
- So great.
I'll be right over with
the rest of your stuff.
But I do want to go
on record again
as saying that Laura and I
didn't want you to move out.
We love having you with us.
I know, but you guys have family
coming in for the holidays.
And besides, this is the perfect place for
me to land while I look for an apartment.
And I know I've said it before,
but I really cannot
thank you both enough
for just taking me in
after everything with Brad.
Oh, Brad is in the past.
You're making a new present here that
will lead to a happy-ever-after future.
I'll cheers to that.
You guys work fast.
Ernie, would you like some wine?
Never touch the stuff.
It's whiskey or nothin'.
- Got it.
- Here's your keys.
This one is to
the basement storage room.
You're welcome
to put things down there.
I live in the apartment next to the
laundry, if you need anything.
Great. Thanks.
It's my boss.
I gotta run, but do feel free
to stay and enjoy the wine.
I will for a few.
I could put away the housewarming gift
Laura and I got for you.
You didn't have to do that.
Love you. Break a pencil.
Hi, Diane.
This cocoa's delicious.
I got you one.
You never treat.
No, I always treat... myself.
But 'tis the season,
so here you go.
Thank you.
What's going on, Diane?
As you know, our numbers
keep dropping.
Subscriptions to the paper are down.
Even our online views are down.
With everything going down,
we need to downsize.
I don't need to be a savvy,
investigative journalist
to figure that since I'm
one of your more recent hires,
I'm one of the downsized.
You're a damn good reporter, Sophia.
You've made such impressive strides
since you started working here.
That piece you did on the social
influencer whose dog was kidnapped,
was fantastic.
Yeah. Well, people just love
stories about dogs.
I don't want to lose you entirely. If
you're willing to continue to work here,
I can pay you per story.
Would that mean that I get to pitch you
what I want to write
instead of you
assigning me stories?
Exactly. No more
running off to town halls
to cover another
city council meeting.
You remind me of myself
when I started out.
Minus the glamour.
But you've got gumption
and hustle, Sophia.
Go find me a good story.
One for Christmas
would be ideal.
A good Christmas story.
Got it. I will go snoop around
Santa and his elves.
You never know what you'll find.
- Excuse me. I am so sorry.
- No, it's okay.
My gingerbread man
needed a bath anyway.
- Can I buy you a new one?
- No. Thank you actually.
- My coffee is so much merrier now.
- Okay. Well, good.
I'm so glad
that I could be of service.
Yeah. I'm glad I could be of
service to you as well.
Really? How... how's that?
you could have bumped into him.
And what?
That would have been worse or...
Oh, yeah.
He's big and has a wide girth and...
probably has bad breath.
Okay, well, you better be nice or
you're gonna end up on his naughty list.
- Hi.
- Hey.
What happened with your boss?
Looks like I'm gonna have
another box to unpack...
my belongings
from my desk at the paper.
You've been fired?
I can still work as
a freelancer, though.
Well, that to me is actually
good news.
You should be writing
for bigger publications.
Well, thank you.
On the bright side, I did actually get
myself a Christmas tree though.
It's so adorable.
Wait, do I spy the Brad ornament?
I just found it in the Brad box.
I want you to close that box
and dump it in the storage room
like Ernie suggested.
That box should be taped and forgotten.
Brad box.
Storage room. Now.
Okay, okay.
I'm going right now. Okay? Bye.
Find me a good Christmas story.
"To Abigail.
Love forever, your Secret Santa."
Hi! My name is Sophia.
I just moved into Apartment 15.
I found this in the storage room.
Are you Abigail?
No. I'm Margie,
and this is Abigail.
Now, I do get my baby
Christmas presents,
but they're from me.
Not from Santa.
Okay. Thank you.
And have a very Meowy Christmas.
Like we haven't
heard that one before.
Who is Abigail?
Why didn't she receive
the present?
Who's her Secret Santa? Someone
she knows or a secret admirer?
What is the present?
Could this be my story?
Hey, Ernie. Morning.
Good morning, Sophia.
How was your first day?
It was rather interesting.
I found this in the storage room.
"To Abigail. Love forever,
your Secret Santa."
Do you have any idea who
Abigail is?
I'm afraid I can't help you.
I'm thinking that Abigail
is somebody from the past.
I mean, this present, it was dusty
like it had been sitting
in the storage room for a long time.
And look how fragile
this tape is.
And... and the wrapping paper
just smacks of 1970s groovy.
1970s groovy. It does indeed.
How long have you worked here?
I came here in '81.
Okay. And were there any Abigails
during that time?
Not that I recall.
Tenants sometimes leave stuff
down in the storage room.
This present's probably
long forgotten about.
I... I'll put it back
for you if you want.
- Actually, I'd like to hold on to it.
- Why?
Well, I'm a journalist, and I think this
could make an interesting story.
I would like to find out who Abigail is
and deliver this present to her.
Maybe try Esther.
She's been here the longest.
All right. Thanks, Ernie.
I don't remember any Abigail.
But if there is an Abigail,
she would be right here
in my binder.
See, every year, I send out
Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards,
greeting cards to all the
residents in the building.
And I've been updating my list
ever since I moved in.
So if there's an Abigail,
she'll be right here.
Wouldn't you like a cup of tea?
- Please. Thank... thank you.
- Of course. Of course.
- Here, you take this.
- Great. All right. I will start looking.
- Well, no Abigail.
- Oh, sorry.
Maybe we can
narrow down the timeline
by this gift card
and this wrapping paper.
Hm. Let me take a look.
It... it does look very old.
It really does.
Aw, such a sweet little note,
isn't it?
M.H! Of course! Marcy Harris.
Marcy Harris used to run a gift store
down by the Christmas corner.
She used to design all her very own gift
cards, greeting cards, wrapping paper.
- Do... do you know if she's still around?
- Oh, no. She retired years ago.
She moved to Arizona.
Her... her store is now,
it's... it's an antique shop.
Timeless Treasures.
Maybe they can help.
Excuse me.
Well, out of all the gingerbread joints
in all the towns in all the world,
she comes walking into mine.
Here's looking at you... Santa.
Welcome to my shop.
- Your shop?
- Yeah. Well, me and my sister's.
Knickknacks and collectibles
from yesteryear.
You come by looking for
something in particular,
or did you just want to
bump into me again?
Well, I'm actually looking for Marcy
Harris wrapping paper and gift cards.
Would you carry that here?
Yeah, sure do. Right this way.
And that's definitely Marcy
Harris wrapping paper. Abigail?
Oh, no. I'm... I'm not Abigail.
I'm trying to find Abigail.
I'm trying to discover when this present
was supposed to be given to her.
Marcy Harris would design
a new paper every season
and she would always discreetly
work the year into the design.
It's... right there.
1972. Great. Yeah.
And thank you so much.
Yeah. You're welcome.
Is that all you needed, or?
That's it.
Well, I guess we'll always have Harris.
You get it, right? Right?
I figured out the year that Abigail was
supposed to receive the present: 1972.
Esther moved in in 1973,
which means Abigail
could have lived here in 1972
and just moved out before
she ever received the present.
I believe that this present is from
somebody who was in love with Abigail.
How do you figure that?
Well, "love forever" is definitely
more of a romantic greeting.
And I don't know, the...
The handwriting seems masculine.
Are you really gonna
write a story about this?
I want to.
I want to find out
who Abigail is or...
or was, and I want to find
her Secret Santa.
Maybe after all this time
it's meant to stay a secret.
No, I don't think so.
I think that there's a
story here that needs to be told.
I mean, knowing what
the present is would help.
- I don't know.
- What the heck. Open it.
Gotta be really gentle with this paper.
I wanna preserve it.
It is so romantic.
You really think so?
Are you familiar with the story
of The Nutcracker,
the whole Christmas ballet
by Tchaikovsky?
The only thing I watch every
Christmas is Die Hard.
It's a great movie,
but this story takes place
on Christmas Eve
when a young girl gets a nutcracker
from her beloved uncle.
And that night, the Nutcracker turns
into a prince...
And the prince takes
the girl to a wondrous world
where they spin around
on their tippy toes.
That much I do know.
This nutcracker is handcrafted.
It's a work of art. It feels antique.
It's gotta have value.
You mean, money kind of value?
Well, I mean, now it has sentimental
and monetary value.
So this... this story has just
gotten so much more interesting.
Wait, do you have any files
on tenants prior to 1973?
Yep. In the storage room.
Keep digging
if you feel so inclined.
Good luck finding Abigail.
Thank you, Ernie.
Who are you, little guy?
What's your story?
That was fast.
What you got for me?
Okay, I have a Christmas mystery that is
just gonna blow your stockings off.
Well, my silk stockings
are very expensive,
so this better be good.
Let's hear the pitch.
Okay, so the story is about
an undelivered Christmas present
to a woman named Abigail from a Secret
Santa who loved her, and get this.
The present? Yeah, it's an antique
nutcracker covered in jewels.
They look pretty real to me.
Oh, keep going.
So I believe that this present was
supposed to be delivered in 1972.
This guy has
just been in the storage room
collecting dust for 50 years
until I discovered him.
Wow, not bad. You have any idea
who Abigail is or the Secret Santa?
Not just yet. But I mean, the mystery
is half the fun, right?
That's not an article, Sophia.
Oh, it's not?
No, it's a series of articles.
Give me part one ASAP.
Okay, great.
Yeah, I definitely will. Thank you.
The search for the Secret Santa.
Hey, sweetie,
how about Chinese for dinner?
I just gotta keep it quick
because I am on assignment.
You've lined up
an article since yesterday?
Way to hustle.
Well, taking your advice
landed me a contract
to write a series of articles
for the paper.
I share so much sage advice
you're gonna have to elaborate.
Well, I dumped the Brad box in the
storage room just like you ordered...
It wasn't really an order.
Well, I found a Christmas present
addressed to an Abigail
from a Secret Santa.
He looks fancy,
like antique fancy.
Yeah, I know. And so now I have this
whole other mystery to solve
besides who Abigail is.
Who is this guy, you know?
What? What are you...
What are you grinning at me
like that for?
I'm just glad to see
you've got your spark back.
Wait. I actually have a first draft of
the first story. Do you want to read it?
This isn't just a mystery.
This is a story about community,
forever love, and giving,
and Christmas...
the nutcracker legacy.
It's beautiful.
Thank you.
And this is only part one.
You best get crackin'.
Okay. Looks good.
and send.
Why didn't Brad ever give me
a present as cool as you?
Probably because I always
pick the wrong guy.
Don't worry, little buddy.
We'll find your Abigail.
Welcome back, not Abigail.
So I opened the present.
"The Mystery of the Antique Nutcracker,
written by Sophia Meyer."
So now I just need to find out about the
nutcracker's history and its origin.
Well, I'd say
you'd come to the right place.
You're talking to Professor
Jackson Hawkins...
I happen to teach German history
and a class on Christmas folklore and
legends at the university.
- Yeah. Mind if I have a look?
- Certainly.
He's extraordinary.
You see how different he is than all
the other ones?
Wait, you made all of these?
Yeah, you could say
I'm nuts about nutcrackers,
and I've never seen one with two-carat
diamond buttons before.
- Wait, real diamonds?
- Yeah. I don't kid about treasure.
Treasure hunting used
to be a bit of a hobby.
You mind if we go get
a cup of hot cocoa?
Well, he wasn't made for sale,
that's for sure.
His staff and his crown are made
of 24-karat gold.
The fur on his cape is from the eastern
Alpine mink. It's now extinct. Feel it.
- Poor guy. Killed for a nutcracker.
- Yeah.
These rubies are from the Mogok
Stone Tract mine in Myanmar.
Look at their clarity.
It's just absolutely extraordinary.
Can you tell when it was made?
World War I era,
if I had to guess.
Look at this crest at the bottom. It means
it was made by royalty or for royalty.
Well, if he's associated with royalty,
does that add to his value?
Yeah, you bet.
Where'd you say you found him?
In the storage room.
- From a Secret Santa?
- Yeah. Emphasis on the secret.
Look, if you want me to make
any inquiries into this wooden fella,
I'd be happy to do that.
You've really landed yourself
an epic mystery here.
I'd really appreciate that.
- You mind if I take some photos?
- Go ahead.
One more thing.
This nutcracker, it's worth somewhere
between super valuable and priceless.
What? Can you be
a tad more specific?
If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say
there's seven figures in that number.
- Holy wow.
- Yeah. Yeah.
So just be careful about the information
you share with the public
and keep him
in a secure location.
Secure location as in locked up?
He's treasure.
There's treasure hunters
out there.
You sound like you know that
from experience?
I do.
I learned the hard way.
Hey, boss. I got your text.
What you need?
Look at the "Ashford Times",
page three.
I want that nutcracker.
Get it for me.
Where is it?
The journalist Sophia Meyer
has it.
I'm on it.
This nutcracker is priceless.
It doesn't matter how.
It doesn't it matter who
gets in your way.
Get him for me.
How did the Secret Santa
come into possession of
such a valuable nutcracker?
Did the Secret Santa
know of the value
when he wrapped
the present for Abigail?
The wrapping paper and gift card
suggest that this was a gift
from a man very much in love.
The men I like are like
stuffed animals.
They're sweet, cuddly at first.
But then they're ultimately just spineless
and full... full of stuffing.
Hey Ernie. This...
This guy needs a little patching up
and Esther
can't find her sewing kit,
so is there any chance that
you have one I could borrow?
Sophia, I am the caretaker.
I have everything.
Oh, great.
Oh, wow. I thought
I heard music playing.
- Did you?
- Yeah.
I loved your article.
Can't wait to see what happens next.
Oh, thank you.
Wow, someone's scoring big
this Christmas.
Those are for loved ones.
So you have family...
Do you have any grandkids?
Oh, no, no.
Tenants are my loved ones.
There might be a present with
your name on it, so no peeking.
Wow. Lucky me.
- It's just me.
- I'm sorry.
You just scared
the stuffing out of me.
Sorry. I was just
trying to keep quiet.
What are you... What are you doing
here? How did you even find me?
I found the golden arrow of Amareth, all
right? Finding you was a piece of cake?
What? Okay, well, I'm figuring that you
have important information for me.
No, I have crucial information
about your nutcracker.
Abigail's nutcracker.
You left him out in the open like this?
Didn't you hear a word I said?
Words are my living.
Why is he just sitting
out here for anybody to grab?
Okay. Well, the poor guy's been
boxed up for decades,
so I just figured, you know,
give him a little freedom.
And besides, I mean, he is really helping
me craft my second article.
just be careful, all right?
Yeah. Okay.
Okay, so what's... what's
your crucial information?
I did a little research.
The royal crest that's painted
on the base of the nutcracker
is from the House of Leopold.
It was a small kingdom in the Alps
between Germany and Austria.
Now, the kingdom dissolved in the 1920s,
and the castle is privately owned.
That's a dead end.
Not so fast.
I did find a distant relative.
She's a third cousin
twice removed,
but she happens to live
on the edge of town.
Okay, wow.
You really are a treasure hunter.
Do you think you could actually
get me her contact information?
I think I could probably
do one better than that.
What are you doing tonight?
Tonight? Like tonight?
Yeah. She might be expecting us
between six and eight.
- I'm sorry. Did you just say us?
- Yeah. Sophia, come on.
I'm a treasure hunter.
Like, this is my jam.
Yeah, I don't know.
Oh, come on.
You got to admit I've been
a little helpful.
Okay, first a test. I need to go back to
the scene of the crime, which is...
The storage room. Let's go now.
All right.
We need to look for file boxes
and see if there was an Abigail
who lived here in 1972,
and we need to look to see
if there were any single men
who were also living in
the building at the same time.
Bless you.
So you're really into nutcrackers?
According to German folklore,
nutcrackers are given as
keepsakes to bring luck
and to protect the home
from evil spirits.
So when did they originate?
Well, the ones that
look like soldiers and royals
first appeared in Germany
around 1800.
They were crafted
in the Erzgebirge region.
That's the mountain region of the country.
Near Leopold Kingdom?
Then, isn't it the Nutcracker
ballet by Tchaikovsky
that linked the nutcracker
to Christmas?
Yeah. Right again.
The ballet
first premiered in 1892,
but the original story written
by E.T.A. Hoffman,
"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,"
was published in 1816.
ETA, as in
estimated time of arrival.
I'm so sorry, never...
Just please.
The original story
was darker and spookier
than the ballet version.
In it, the Mouse Queen casts
an evil spell on a prince
and turns him
into a hideous beast...
A nutcracker.
Tale as old as time.
Men always try to act like
they're Prince Charming
when in reality, they're rats.
Okay, not all men.
Some men are just... cursed.
Anyway, there's an epic battle
between the cursed prince
and the Mouse King.
The cursed prince fights
but the Mouse King gets the
upper hand.
He's going to kill the cursed prince.
- But just then...
- The... the young girl...
Yes! Clara!
She grabs her slipper
and tosses it at the Mouse King...
Killing him.
And lifting the curse.
It was Clara's love that turned
the cursed beast back into a prince.
Her love, or her slipper?
The slipper killed the Mouse King
and her love lifted the curse.
I'm sorry that... That's rat poop.
You don't believe that the love of a good
woman can turn a rat into a prince?
No, I believe that it's
a man's personal responsibility,
whether he's a prince or a rat.
What about the magic of love?
I mean, love inspires,
provides comfort and support.
It catalyzes change
and inspires growth.
I mean, love spreads
joy and compassion.
I think that love
can cure curses,
especially ones
that we put on ourselves.
Love and magic.
Yeah. I mean, it's pretty magical
that we just found this, don't you think?
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
It's a tale as old as time.
Maybe we should get out of here.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
So to recap,
her name is Leonie Leopold.
- That's a great name
- I know, right?
Thank you.
All right.
Wait, what is the third cousin
of royalty?
Twice removed.
So wait... Is she
a duchess or a dame?
- Miss Leopold, hi. I'm...
- The professor and the journalist.
We were hoping
you could tell us about him.
Would you get
that thing away from me.
That thing is cursed!
I'm gonna go put him in the car.
Miss Leopold, we apologize.
The nutcracker is part
of a much larger mystery
that we would like to understand and we
need your help solving that mystery.
You're safe now.
You're lucky that you're charming.
It's the only reason I'm letting you in.
Thank you.
Family recipe.
Thank you.
I moved halfway
around the world to start fresh,
to get away from the Leopold legacy.
And now that thing
is in my yard?
How is this possible?
Why is the nutcracker
no longer with your family?
It brought us nothing but pain
and sorrow. It cursed our family.
How is the nutcracker responsible
for the pain and the sorrow?
World War I
hit the Leopold family hard.
Half of the family was killed fighting
the Germans, including two princes.
There were only
three royals left:
King Leon, Queen Nora
and their youngest son,
Prince Peter.
The king and queen were long past their
ability to have children,
so the king hoped for the continuation
of the royal dynasty
was with his 21-year-old son.
But Peter was not
the marrying type.
- I don't know.
- Peter loved Finn, a commoner.
A male commoner.
Peter showered Finn
with extravagant gifts
and Finn took some of the gems
and made a nutcracker for Peter.
Nutcrackers were considered
and protection for those
who owned them.
It's a hundred years later, and
we're still struggling to accept people
for who they are
and who they love.
King Leon
cared nothing about love.
The only thing he cared about
was the continuing of the royal line.
When the king discovered his
son's love affair with Finn,
he banished Finn from the kingdom
and forbid his son to ever see Finn again.
Peter was so distraught
he died of heart attack.
A broken heart?
And the king was so guilt-ridden,
that he saw the nutcracker as a sign,
a reminder of his own
tragic blindness.
But the queen couldn't get rid
of the nutcracker, could she?
I would assume that she saw it as a
representation of Finn and Peter's love
not only for each other,
but her love for her son.
Yes, she did.
But the king, he thought
the that nutcracker was cursed.
And as long as it existed,
the curse would prevail.
The queen gave the nutcracker
to her maid for safekeeping.
And that nutcracker passed
from the queen's sister
to a cousin to another cousin.
And at each stop tragedy
hit whomever held it.
And finally,
sometime in the 1960s,
it was donated to a ballet
company from Minsk
that will perform "The Nutcracker".
Do you happen to know the name
of the ballet company?
I do not, and I don't care.
I want nothing to do with
that nutcracker or its journey.
But it's so nice to meet you.
Thank you very much,
Miss Leopold.
Leonie, please.
Miss Leopold, I was...
I was actually wondering
if you would allow me
to tell Peter's story
and honor his love for Finn.
- It's never been told before.
- Well, I believe that it's time.
I think you're right.
You know, it's just a shame Peter
and Finn's love couldn't have been...
Been what?
Like the love that Leonie had for you?
I was gonna say honored,
but yeah, sure, that too.
The nutcracker is a piece
of Austrian history.
- It should be in a museum somewhere.
- Yeah, I agree with you.
As a treasure hunter,
did you hunt treasure
for personal profit or for museums?
Listen, Sophia, there's
something I should tell you.
- Wait.
- What?
I think I see
a light in my apartment.
- Maybe you left the light on.
- No, it looked like it was a flashlight.
It was moving.
I think somebody's been here.
Or is still here.
You really got to get this nutcracker
to a museum sooner rather than later.
No way. We are so close
to cracking this thing wide open.
Is this story really
more important than your safety?
I'm an investigative journalist.
Risk is on my resume.
All right, well, at least let me camp out
on your couch tonight.
- Just to be safe.
- What? Are you afraid to be alone?
I don't know. What do you think?
Should we let him?
What are we willing
to do for it?
To sacrifice for it?
To give for it?
Is the distortion of love a curse?
If love breaks us, can love fix us?
- Hello?
- Oh, hey, Thibb.
Still on duty.
That's Detective Thibb to you.
I know.
I'm sorry to call so late.
What do you need?
And does it have anything to do
with the stories you're writing
for the Ashford Times?
You read my stories?
I skimmed 'em.
I'm kidding.
They're great, kiddo.
Thanks, Thibb.
Well, I just need help finding out about
what happened to the nutcracker.
Nutcracker from your story?
Yep. The one that is allegedly cursed
and undoubtedly priceless.
Well, I'll see what I can do.
- Thanks, Thibb. You're great.
- Okay. Bye.
Good morning.
- Good coffee.
- A journalist's panacea.
- Did you pull an all-nighter?
- No, no, no.
I got two hours of sleep,
but I have information for you.
- Crucial information.
- Okay. Let's hear it.
- The nutcracker was stolen.
- What?
Yeah, it was stolen from the Pembroke
Playhouse on December 14th, 1972.
- Well, how'd you find that out?
- I have a friend in law enforcement.
Okay, impressive.
Isn't the Pembroke Playhouse
just the next town over?
Yeah, yeah.
I'm actually going there today.
You mind if I go with you?
- Yeah, I was kind of hoping.
- Wait, what's that?
"I have answers to your
"Meet me at the corner of
Elm and Rosedale roads.
"Bring the nutcracker.
Noon sharp."
- We should call the police.
- Oh, no.
I need to get the entire story
and I don't have it yet, and so I'm going.
All right. It's just...
At least let me come with you.
Well, okay. Just as long as
you keep your distance,
because I don't want
to scare this guy off.
All right. Aye-aye, captain.
Late again, Rizzo.
You just got yourself fired.
Looks like I gotta do everything
- Are you okay?
- Yeah. I think so.
Which way did he go?
The Ashford Lounge.
Let's split up. I'll meet you there.
You little sneak.
- Happy holidays.
- Thank you.
Excuse me.
It was him.
But he's gone.
That was a close one. I was really
hopping we were gonna catch him.
Thank you.
- Be right back.
- Yeah, sure.
You must be Sophia.
- Hi.
- Hi.
My brother has been having a blast
helping you with the stories.
He's really into that nutcracker.
Or maybe it's not
just the nutcracker.
Your brother has been
a really big help.
I'm glad. He really needed something
to pull him out of his funk.
His funk?
I shouldn't share anymore, but just as
much as he's been helping you,
you've been helping him more.
You two make quite a team.
Well... I just...
I can't believe that he made all of
those nutcrackers. It's... They're...
- They're wonderful.
- Excuse me, miss.
Sorry. Excuse me.
- That was wild. You okay?
- Yeah. I'm good.
You're a woman of surprises.
Tracking device?
Well, look, I gotta go to my class
but... See you later?
- Yeah.
- Okay.
You have got to be
more careful, Soph.
I am being careful.
I'm not just talking about the strange men
trying to rob you.
What about this Jackson guy?
What about him?
You let him sleep over?
The professed treasure hunter
you just met?
Come on.
Okay, look, I'm not being stupid, okay?
I put the nutcracker in a secure location.
And besides, Jackson has actually been
really, really helpful.
Treasure hunters hunt treasure.
What if he's using you
to get to the nutcracker?
Nancy, I...
You said the thing's like seven figures
and value, right?
I doubt there's a treasure hunter on this
planet who wouldn't do anything for that,
including acting like
a prince of a fellow.
Fair point.
I don't want to sound harsh, Soph,
but you don't exactly...
What? Have the best track record
when it comes to choosing men?
Yeah, I know.
It's your nature to snoop.
Have you snooped him yet?
- Not yet.
- Snoop him, Soph.
Thanks, Stan.
What is going on?
I'm trying to figure that out.
My gosh.
- Ernie, are you okay?
- You should see the other guy.
Yeah, yeah. I'd like to see the other guy.
What did he look like?
He was wearing a face mask.
Solid build. Looked like
he was in his early 30s.
I'm so sorry.
It's okay. We're okay.
This is about
your stories, isn't it?
Yeah, I believe so. There's treasure
hunters that want the nutcracker.
Poor thing's had a rough
enough life already.
Keep telling your story.
Call me think of you need
anything else.
- So this is about your story?
- Yeah, I think so.
I need you to find out about
a guy named Jackson Hawkins.
Yeah, I arrested him three years ago.
He was a treasure hunter.
Avoided jail time by turning in his fences
and returning some stolen artifacts.
I think he may still be doing
community service.
Can you get me
that arrest report?
Sure. It's part
of the public records.
So you think he's involved?
December 1972.
Karen and Mark LaVallee
abruptly vacated apartment 5
on Christmas Eve
with their daughter Abigail, age 17.
I wonder why on Christmas Eve.
Wait, apartment 5
is Margie's apartment.
That means that Margie moved in
right after Abigail moved out.
Okay. Abigail, nicknamed Twirly.
Twirly? That sounds like a nickname
for a ballerina.
Maybe Abigail was a dancer,
and Tony wanted her to have
her own nutcracker!
So if they left
on Christmas Eve,
that that could explain why Abigail
never actually received the present.
But then how did Tony come into
possession of something so valuable?
And why would he
give it to Abigail?
Did she know that it was stolen
and therefore refused the present?
And knowing that her great love
was a thief and a rat
caused her to flee
with her parents? Or...
Hello, Ivana.
to the Pembroke Playhouse.
- Happy holidays.
- Thank you...
Another rat.
- It's been a long time, Jackson.
- Yeah, not long enough.
Your sister's lovely.
- Shame anything should happen to her.
- Leave her alone, all right?
Only if you help me.
I'm still on probation.
And I still have dirt
on you that could lock you up.
Hi, excuse me.
I'm looking for Ivana Sorokin.
She is over there.
I'm Ivana Sorokin.
Hi, I'm Sophia Meyer
from the "Ashford Times".
Is this you?
Such a long time ago.
Yes, that is me.
What do you think
happened to the nutcracker?
I don't care what happened to it.
I'm glad it's been gone all these years.
- Why? Do you believe that it's cursed?
- Without a doubt.
How so?
That nutcracker was given to our
ballet company back in the 1960s.
The next day, our lead ballerina
broke her ankle.
It ended her dancing career.
Oh, yikes.
It didn't stop there.
Sets fell on crew members.
Performances were canceled.
After Tony, the custodian,
stole it,
all the bad things stopped.
We realized it must be cursed.
- Tony?
- Yes. Tony.
He was such a nice young man.
Everyone loved him.
one December night,
Tony and the nutcracker
A gunshot was heard on the stage
that night. The police were called.
- Was anybody hurt or killed?
- Not that we know of.
There was nobody here
when police arrived.
What do you think
happened to Tony?
Some in our troop
believed he had been murdered
and whoever killed him
hid the body.
But you don't
believe that, do you?
I had little crush on Tony,
but it didn't last long.
Tony was in love with Carolyn,
in a local ballet class.
After that night,
I never saw that girl again.
I always had hope Tony
and she had run off together.
What if I told you that I could return
the nutcracker to you?
I'd tell you to flush it. Trash it!
Keep it.
Keep it away from my dancers.
It's worth quite...
Quite a bit of money.
Then please donate it
somewhere where it can do some good.
We don't want it.
Oh, thank you.
Hey, Diane.
Hey there.
What's the latest with your story?
I found out where the
nutcracker was stolen from.
Good job. Did you get help
from that Jackson guy?
No. Not this time.
At the risk of prying,
is there anything going on there?
You've been spending
lots of time with the guy.
I am working solo now.
- Really?
- Yeah.
Yeah, it turns out he's a scoundrel,
just like every other man I bump into.
But this time I thought...
I don't know. I thought...
Sounds like you've been
thinking too much.
It would be kind of reckless for me to not
assess his past and his motives.
Look, I don't know what
you think his motives are.
But in these matters, I've always found
it's best to listen to your heart.
What does your heart say?
I don't know.
Sometimes it's hard to be brave
enough to listen.
But as a reporter, you've always
been intrepid, Sophia.
Thanks, Diane.
Follow your heart
and get me that next story
Okay, I will. Bye.
Where'd you put
all my nutcrackers?
We sold them all.
Every single one.
Man, I really don't deserve
a sister like you.
You in trouble again?
I don't know
how to get out of it this time.
Is this about Sophia?
Sort of, but...
It's not really like that.
Merry, merry.
Come on in.
How you feelin'?
Pretty darn good
for my age and my stage.
Brought you a gift.
Would you like some?
Only if you'll join me.
What's on your mind, Sophia?
I think you and I
have a lot to talk about...
I figured we'd have this talk sooner
than later. How'd you figure it out?
Ernst Theodor Ammadiss. E.T.A.
As in E.T.A. Hoffman,
the author of
"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"?
I couldn't be Tony anymore.
I was a wanted man,
But I wanted a name
if Abigail came back, she'd know.
She'd know it was me.
I'll bet this plays something
from The Nutcracker, doesn't it?
And all these presents are
for Abigail too, aren't they?
One for each year
we've been apart.
So you left the nutcracker
wrapped in the storage room
because it was stolen?
I didn't want anybody to find it
and make the connection.
But it would
still be there even if she...
If she came back...
See, the storage room
was where we would meet,
where we could be alone,
away from her parents.
So what happened that
night at the Pembroke Playhouse?
The night I stole the nutcracker,
I killed a man.
I was young. Scared.
- I ran.
- No, no, Tony.
You didn't kill anybody.
There was no body.
I was confronted by someone.
I panicked. I hit him.
I saw him fall into the orchestra pit.
I mean, even if I didn't murder someone,
I stole the nutcracker.
But why? Why did you steal it?
I met Abigail in 1971
at the theater.
It was love at first sight
for both of us.
I was a high school dropout
and a janitor.
Her parents forbid her
to see me.
I wasn't good enough for her.
I figured those are
real diamonds on the nutcracker.
I thought we could use it
to run away together.
The night I stole it,
I wrapped the present and left it
where we used to meet,
hoping she'd find it.
Figuring I murdered somebody,
I couldn't bring that shame
on Abigail, so I ran.
I tried to send her a message
but her parents had found out
that we were planning
on running away together,
so they moved.
So then you came back here
hoping that she might return one day.
I searched for her for years.
No luck.
I still love her...
every moment of every day.
Don't give up, Tony.
I won't.
Fifty years ago,
a real-life love story never
got a happy ever after.
True love doesn't die.
True love endures,
whether it's 50 minutes or 50 years.
This Christmas Eve...
"Tony will be waiting,
"his love for Abigail is as strong
today as it was 50 years ago.
"A love more valuable than any
bejeweled priceless nutcracker.
"Abigail, if you are reading this,
"your prince awaits your arrival."
Goodbye, Brad.
You no longer
hold any power over me.
what are you doing here?
Shouldn't you be finishing
up your community service?
Look, I never lied to you. Okay?
You withheld
pertinent information.
And I don't know
what's more offensive...
The fact that you just
didn't tell me about your past
or the fact that you think so little
of my investigative skills
that you didn't think
I would figure it out.
Look, I'm embarrassed
about what I did. Okay?
I really... I am.
You're right. I was a rat.
But I'm not one anymore, okay?
- I don't believe you.
- I tried to tell you. I did.
In the car on our way home
from Leonie's. I tried to tell you.
There was plenty of time that night
when you could have told me,
when we were sharing
a bowl of popcorn.
- Hey! Jackson, what is going on?
- Everything's gone wrong.
- I don't know what to do.
- What?
- Where's the nutcracker?
- It's in a safe place like you suggested.
- I'm sorry, Sophia, but I need it.
- Well, you know I can't do that.
Please, Sophia.
I'm begging you.
No. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to feed
your criminal habit.
Sophia, I can't
leave here without it.
Well, then I'm gonna have
to call my detective friend.
Wait. Please don't!
Wait. I can explain everything.
Did you buy all my nutcrackers?
Yeah. Yeah, it was before I discovered
that you're a rat.
You're right, Sophia.
I am a rat.
But right now
I'm a cornered rat.
What do you mean?
I have to give that nutcracker to Simon
or he's gonna hurt my sister.
Wait, is Simon
the guy with the eye patch?
Yeah. Yeah, that's him.
Yeah, I saw you with him yesterday.
How long have you been playing me?
I'm not playing you, Sophia.
Look, I was a treasure hunter
and Simon was my boss.
I got arrested,
and I was afraid of Simon so instead
of giving his name to the police,
I gave them the names of everybody else
that I worked with.
And now he's threatening my sister.
And if we don't give him
that nutcracker, then...
I don't know
what's gonna happen.
It's him. It's Simon.
Do you have it?
Not yet.
Tick tock, tick tock.
Andrea. Don't hurt my sister.
Bring me the nutcracker
and she'll be fine.
Say okay.
- Okay.
- In one hour.
In one hour.
At the Pembroke Playhouse.
Dj vu. I'll meet you there
in one hour.
What about my sister?
Well, you bring me the nutcracker
and I'll tell you where to find her.
- Okay.
- What are we gonna do?
Very clever.
It's a good hiding spot.
We're gonna give
the nutcracker to Simon.
- We can't trust Simon. He's a...
- He's what? A beast? A rat?
A Mouse King?
A Gucci-wearing pirate.
I have a plan.
Who are you calling?
We're gonna need backup.
I'm gonna record this whole thing
just in case we get a confession.
- Good idea.
- Yeah.
- Tony.
- Wait, Tony's your caretaker?
You've been with him at the
boarding house this whole time?
Thank you for coming.
If I can help
in any way, I'm game.
You know what
you're supposed to do, right?
I know this theater
like the back of my hand.
Okay, little guy.
You are going to be in very good hands.
Okay, we got about 20 minutes.
You know, I really wish
you'd let me face Simon alone.
This isn't safe.
He's dangerous, all right?
This isn't just a story.
Yeah, no, I know. It's a group effort.
Give it to me.
You're a little early, Simon.
What did you do
to Jackson's sister?
She's a little
tied up right now.
Give me the nutcracker if you
ever want to see her again.
Wait, wait, wait. Wait, you tried to steal
this nutcracker 50 years ago.
Now you're attempting
to steal it again?
I'm not stealing it.
I was swacked in the face
with a flashlight
from the guy
who stole it years ago.
I think I'm owed.
Give it to me.
Not until
you tell me where Andrea is.
You're in no position
to make demands.
Wait, wait, wait, wait. All of this?
All of this, really, for a stupid doll?
It's not just a doll.
This doll is worth
25 million dollars.
Twenty-five million dollars?
And you're just, what?
- Handing it over to this jerk?
- It's for my sister, all right?
- How sweet. A lover's quarrel.
- Hardly.
You know, that whole prince
story that you fed me
about the love of a good woman
turning a rat into a prince.
What a bunch of rat crap.
You men are all the same.
He's out.
Get out of my way.
Not on your life.
- Sophia, run!
- You...
Come on.
Come here!
Come on!
I see you started without me?
Back up. Back away. Back away.
- Everybody okay?
- Yeah.
Good job.
We'll take it from here.
Come on. Let's go.
- Did he hurt you?
- No. I'm okay.
- Quite a plan, Sherlock Holmes.
- Yeah.
Yeah, well you... you make
a pretty good Watson.
I'm so sorry.
- I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay.
- You okay? Yeah.
Good job, Sophia.
You too, Tony.
Your friend's a really good guy.
Yeah, he is.
Thank you so much for joining us today
especially because it is Christmas Eve.
When I discovered this Christmas
present in the storage room,
I knew that there was an
interesting mystery to solve,
but I had no idea how big
the story would become.
And what are you gonna do
with the nutcracker?
So, my dear best friends
Nancy and Laura
are actually going to take
this historic nutcracker to Austria
next month on their honeymoon,
and there it's going to be
exhibited to honor the love
of Prince Peter and Finn,
a commoner.
So what's next for you?
For me?
Some studios have actually approached
me about optioning the story,
and I've been approached
about a book deal.
And starting next week,
I am going to be a weekly columnist
at the "Ashford Times".
What about Tony and Abigail?
There's no sign of her just yet.
But with true love, hope never dies.
- And Tony is going to be here waiting.
- I am.
And for the record, no charges will
be brought against him
now that the nutcracker
has been returned.
Folks, thanks for coming out
and have a Merry Christmas.
Thank you so much.
Excuse me.
Are you the woman
who wrote those articles?
But you're not here to see me.
Come here.
You're back.
You're finally back.
We were always together.
And so love conquered all.
Yeah. A happy ending.
I don't know.
I think there's one more chapter.
Really, Diane? I mean, how many
treasures can this basement hold?
You're the writer. I'm the editor.
- I know, and you never let me forget it.
- Your next story is down there.
Okay, bye.
Are you defacing the beam?
Well... yeah. I was in the process
of defacing the beam.
I just needed
your final approval.
My final approval for what?
This is a place of forever love
and I wanted to write
"Sophia and Jackson"
inside the heart.
Can I?
Oh, wait.
I made this for you.
It is beautiful.
I know you're not a ballerina
but you've been dancing circles
around my heart
since the moment
you bumped into me.
You lifted my curse.
Jackson, the real curse was me thinking
that true love had to be like a fairy tale
when the fact is, real life,
and the real you,
are far better.
Wait. I almost
forgot a key element.
Care to dance?
You know I'm not a ballerina.
Well, that's all right. I mean,
like you said, I'm not much of a prince.
Then we're the perfect match.