I guess it was inevitable that they’d make a sequel to the first Eloise movie, since both the stories are taken from a pre-existing series of children’s books… and fair play to them for filming it shortly after the original, so they could keep Sofia Vassilieva on in the lead role (although she was already five years older than her character at the time!).
For those who don’t know, Eloise at Christmastime (2003) follows the pint-sized penthouse-dweller’s hi-jinks at the Plaza hotel, during the run-up to the eponymous holiday. This time around, she sets about reuniting her friend ‘Bill’ (Gavin Creel), a humble room service waiter, with his lost love, ‘Rachel Peabody’ (Sara Topham), who just so happens to be the hotel owner’s estranged daughter. Unfortunately, the impetus for Rachel’s unexpected return from Europe is her impending marriage to a douchey golddigger named ‘Brooks Oliver’ (Rick Roberts), who talks a good game, but is really just a penniless swindler. Oh no! Can Eloise expose the cad’s true character, and convince Rachel to follow her heart, while confounding her father’s elitist expectations? SPOILER: No… no, she can’t. They all die alone and unhappy. Ho ho ho!
I’d say this instalment was probably a little funnier than its predecessor, and the light mystery/thriller element really helps it stand apart. There are also far more scenes of Eloise tangling with Christine Baranski, as the hotel’s events co-ordinator ‘Prunella Stickler’, so that’s definitely a plus! It seemed a little less sappy and tear-jerky than the first one though… which is either a pro or a con depending on your temperament, I guess.
The books were written and released in the 50’s, and I’d assumed from the sets, props, costumes and dialogue that these films were supposed to be set in the old timey days too… but when ‘Nanny’ (Julie Andrews) takes Eloise out of the hotel to go Christmas shopping, it turns out that they’re actually living in the 21st Century! It was quite disorienting really, and I doubt it was intentional… I’m guessing they had all those crucial outdoor scenes to film, but didn’t have the time or the money to close off the real New York streets and redress the shops to fit the period. On the other hand, there’s also a plot-point involving a set of shiny new plastic walkie-talkies… so, lord knows. Probably best not to think about it too much. It’s just a shame they weren’t able to continue the series, because the next book supposedly sees the tiny terror travelling to Moscow, and getting her nose nipped by the Cold War!