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Film / If You Believe

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If You Believe is a 1999 Made-for-TV Christmas movie and one of the happier Lifetime Movies of the Week.

Susan Stone is a modern-day Scrooge-like woman. She used to be a spirited child, and an idealistic and enthusiastic young woman, but she is now a weary and cynical book editor who is troubled with self-doubt and has lost passion about everything she loved. She's afraid of losing her job and she has practically given up on happiness.

However, this Christmas, magic comes in the form of a cute 7-year-old girl, invisible to others, who claims she is Susan's inner self. The little Suzie has come to help the adult Susan rediscover her zest for life.

The film stars Ally Walker as Susan Stone and Hayden Panettiere as Suzie. Tom Weller is portrayed by Tom Amandes. It's a holiday Made For TV Movie and a variation of Yet Another Christmas Carol.

The film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alliterative Name: Susan Stone.
  • Almost Kiss: When Tom accompanies Susan to her room in the inn and they say their good nights, he almost kisses her, but Susan pulls away. Lampshaded by Suzie who is thrilled that he wanted to kiss her.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Bob is Susan's younger brother and he was annoying when they were younger. Shown during one scene in Time-Compression Montage when they bicker.
  • Babies Ever After: The last scene of the movie shows Tom and Susan's baby girl Pru. She has the family little red mark, meaning that she will have the seer power as well.
  • Better as Friends: Tom is attracted to Susan and would like to be with her. Susan likes him as well, but she is afraid of ruining their friendly professional relationship. In addition, little Suzie thinks she's afraid of commitment and that Tom might treat her like Peter did.
  • Be Yourself: Susan's Dad message: "You is what you is, and you ain't what you ain't."
  • Big Friendly Dog: Little Suzie loves Tom's huge dog and she cuddles with him a lot.
  • Broken Bird: Susan. Peter treated her badly and she let him. She's emotionally dead inside and prefers to feel nothing. She acts bitterly towards her nieces and nephews, and she's extremely hard on her assistant.
  • Christmas Songs: Christmas songs are all over the film, especially traditional Christmas carols. Characters sing them, Tom plays them on the trombone and their variations are used as the musical score.
  • Cool Teacher: Bob is a teacher and loves his job. During their Thanksgiving dinner, he talked about his clever student whom he tried to get a scholarship. Susan doesn't approve of his career choice, thinking it's low-paying and dangerous.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Susan warms considerably throughout the movie, especially to her assistant Robin and also to her brother and his kids. Luckily, she was never shrewish towards Tom.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Peter was present only in one scene and he was smoking or chewing a pipe. He definitely felt to be above everybody else.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Tom plays the trombone, mostly Christmas carols. Susan likes it a lot and thinks it's really sexy. Tom uses it to charm Susan when he invites her to see him play Christmas carols with a town orchestra. Susan's younger self Susie says she loves that he plays the trombone, pointing out that musicians are attractive.
  • Fictional Document: Tom's book Phooey, also referred to as "Untitled", exists only in the movie.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Tom Weller's family have their own small graveyard. He shows Susan his parents' graves.
  • Gratuitous French: Bitchy Dorinda uses a French phrase when she criticises Tom's book.
  • Held Gaze: Between Tom and Susan. It's so painfully obvious that they're into each other, yet they just gaze into each other's eyes.
  • Happy Dance: Susan performs a Happy Dance when she phones Dilly, one of her star writer, and learns that he finally overcame his Writer's Block. That's quite a reason to celebrate, right?
  • Happy Ending: Susan reconciles with her brother, once again finds the love for her job, ends up together with Tom.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Peter tried to change Susan and utterly screwed her in the process. For example, he was belittling her in front of her family or telling her that she should stop gushing about her new writers. Then he left her.
  • Indirect Kiss: Tom and Susan eat something very tasty together and share. It's hard to say what they eat precisely, probably something sweet from a local cooking genius.
  • Jerkass: Dorinda. She's very unpleasant towards Susan and other characters. She is very pleased with herself when she thrashes Tom's book in a meeting.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: Susan is the aggrieved woman who finds happiness and empowerment. The movie is also filled with Christmas spirit and elements of a Romantic Comedy because Susan finds a cute nice man.
  • Longing Look: Either it's Tom looking lovingly at Susan, or Susan looking lovingly at Tom.
  • Love at First Sight:
    • Discussed. It's how Susan's parents met. She claims she never believed the story, but Tom is positive it happened. He even thinks all love is Love At First Sight, at least one way, because otherwise there couldn't be any second dates.
    • Conversed. It appears as a trope in Tom's book and they discuss whether it's well-written and believable.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: TV movie, Christmas style.
  • Market-Based Title: Of late, it's billed on its British TV airings (in listings guides, though not on screen) as If You Believe At Christmas.
  • Meaningful Name: What can Susan Stone's heart be made of?
  • Missing Mom: Bob's wife died and he takes care of their four children. The children look like they deal with it quite ok. Their dad adores them and wants them to be cheerful and happy.
  • Motor Mouth: Susan's assistant Robin talks and talks and talks. Constantly. Susan calls it run on sentences.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Susan is an editor working for a publishing house and Tom is a lawyer who gave up his career to be a writer. Susan ends up editing his first novel.
  • Opera: Susan used to love opera, but Peter hated it and made her stop attending. Suzie forces her to finally go. She absolutely enjoys herself seeing La Traviata.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: At first, Susan is scared that she might have a tumour and little Suzie is just a hallucination. When she accepts her presence, she's frustrated with her childlike ideas and advice.
  • Parental Abandonment: Susan and Bob's parents both died when Bob and Susan were only very young adults. Susan misses her Dad very much.
  • The Proud Elite: Probably Peter, if his clothes and pipe are anything to go by. He's a stuck-up toff who feels he's above everybody.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Tom Weller gave up being a successful lawyer to work on his first novel full time.
  • Rapid-Fire "Yes!": When Susan learns that Dilly's Writer's Block is slowly over, she jumps and starts dancing. She keeps chanting multiplied and somewhat toned down "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!". She's kind of embarrassed when Tom sees her. He thinks she's cute, though.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bob to Susan. It was triggered by the fact that Susan told her seven-year-old niece Alice that Santa Clause is a myth. He ends telling her that he doesn't even want her among his children any more because she's bad and toxic influence. She sarcastically apologizes for poisoning them with reality.
  • Romance Ensues: Susan goes to stay in Connecticut for a couple of weeks with Tom to work on his novel. They spend most of their time together and with no other company. He charms her with his country family home and his music, and she opens up to him, telling him stories about her family. They work very hard, but they also have friendly and less friendly arguments about the novel. One argument ends up with a passionate kiss from Tom and Susan violently kisses him back. However, she would like to take it back, saying that it was just one little indiscreet moment.
  • Rom Com Job: She's an editor & he's a writer.
  • Seers: Women in Tom's family had a little red mark on their forehead, called a third eye, and they were able to see the future. Tom says he has the gift a bit, too.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Susan gets sexy red underpants with green Christmas tree applications from her friendly colleague Gloria. She wears it at Christmas and opens her door when Tom comes still wearing it. He happens to like it a lot.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Suzie thinks Tom is definitely Prince Charming. Susan tends to agree, but thinks he's not serious enough, and she's afraid to start the relationship. Tom really seems to be the jackpot: nice, sweet, clever, creative, rich, loves family...
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: Tom is a first time writer and Susan is an editor of his novel. They both feel attracted to each other but Susan tries to persuade herself that she doesn't want him romantically because of their friendly yet professional relationship. However, she's also afraid of commitment because her ex-husband was emotionally abusive.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Four key scenes show us Susan's life before the movie proper begins: seven-year-old Suzie, thirteen-year-old Suzie, Susan in her early twenties, and Mrs Peter at twenty-seven. These scenes all happen at Christmas with her family, but they are never truly happy, and each is less happy than the previous one.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: When Susan leaves from Connecticut, Tom accompanies her to say goodbye, but they both feel quite awkward.
  • Unfortunate Names: Tom wants to name his book Phooey, which is a name of one of his aunts and a family pet name of Phoebe. Susan the editor doesn't approve of this title at all.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Young Suzie tells off adult Susan several times. Mostly it's about how she should embrace her life and enjoy it like when she was little.
  • Writer's Block: Dylan, one of Susan's writers, suffers from a long depression or some other mental breakdown and is currently off medication. He has written two third's of a brilliant novel and knows what to do with the rest, but he cannot bring himself to finish it.
  • Write What You Know: In-universe. Tom's book is based on a history of his family.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Susan the Scrooge receives a visit from her past self to show her that it is not too late to find happiness. If you happen to miss the reference throughout, you cannot be mistaken when Susan calls Bob to apologize and introduces herself as: "It's your sister the Scrooge."