Movie Review: Christmas Town

The plot:

Nicole de Boer plays Liz, a single mother who’s a real estate agent who’s SO dedicated to her job and so good at it that she’s managed to sell several homes in December. Apparently it’s unusual to sell a home to closer it gets to Christmas, but Liz can handle it!

After successfully selling a home, she heads to her own home to find her son and his friends having a “snowball fight” with laundry soap suds, as the nanny has disappeared and the son figured out he can make tons of soap bubbles by filling the washing machine with soap, or something. Remarkably, Liz basically just gives him a warning, and does not do literally anything to punish him. She’s a bit stressed out because it’s winter break, so her son, Mason, has no school for two weeks. But she’s a busy single mother! And he does stupid, irresponsible stuff like that despite being old enough to know better!

Liz gets a call from her father, who says he’s moved to some place called Hollyville, where it’s Christmas all year round, and he invites Liz and Mason to visit him over the holidays. Liz isn’t so sure – they don’t really celebrate Christmas in her household, and she says they didn’t really celebrate Christmas when she was a kid either. But Mason was really pitiful when he asked if they could at least get a Christmas tree this year, and he also suggests they check on Grandpa just to make sure he’s not crazy or anything, because moving to a Christmas town is really out of character for him. So Liz agrees, although it’s more than a day’s drive from wherever they are in California to wherever Hollyville is.

On the way, Mason suggests they sing Christmas songs, since it’s around December 21 at that time. Liz doesn’t want to, but apparently owns no CDs or a car radio, so she sings along to Jingle Bells rather than riding in silence for a whole day.

They reach the general area of Hollyville, but can’t find it, and then the car breaks down so they walk, and actually enter Hollyville.

The plot after this is excruciating.

Long story short, Liz and her father make up after they come to terms with how they put Christmas out of their hearts after her mom died, and Mason discovers the local town’s oddly located big factory – N.P. Enterprises – is actually THE North Pole, with Santa, and elves, and reindeer, and everything. I’m not sure if Patrick Muldoon’s creepy character and Liz fall for each other. Nobody in this movie really develops or changes as a character. The end.

The verdict:

This movie is terrible. I’ve seen worse Christmas movies, but this one is just… It gets incredibly boring after they finally arrive at the titular Christmas town. The acting isn’t bad, so I’ll give the movie that much credit. But they never explain why the North Pole is located in a small Pacific town rather than somewhere closer to the real North Pole.

Also, this movie could not feel any less like Christmas. At the beginning, it was fine. They’re somewhere in California, and Liz doesn’t bother doing anything for Christmas, so the lack of decorations and people wearing spring clothing, I understood. But then they drive “more than a day’s drive” north of wherever they are in California, and there’s still people walking around in shorts and t-shirts even though it’s nearly Christmas. I know they can’t do anything about the quality of the lighting and the appearance of the trees making it obvious they filmed the movie in May.

But the “Christmas town” itself doesn’t even look Christmas-y. We barely see any buildings for the place so it looks like rather than a “Christmas town”, it’s just a row of themed buildings on a disused street in a larger town. Several reviews have said the “town” looks like it was put up in a parking lot outside of a Costco, and well, they’re not wrong. There’s barely any Christmas decorations anywhere, too! If I’m going to a place called Hollyville that claims to celebrate Christmas all year round, I’m expecting a place that looks a bit more festive than the local Christmas shop someone runs out of their own house. They don’t even have fake snow! Maybe it doesn’t snow in that town at all, but it just seems like they’d have fake snow to make it more festive, right? There’s also no Christmas music in this movie. The iMDB page claims there is, but I only remember hearing Jingle Bells and the original song at the end, but a lot of generic tv movie music.

The “elves” employed at the North Pole don’t look anything like elves. Mason asserts the one grumpy guy they keep running into is an elf, even though he’s a full-grown man of average height, who looks middle-aged, has no pointy ears, and isn’t even jolly or anything. There is no reason to assume this guy is an elf.

However you feel about Christmas movies, don’t you think it’s ridiculous that a movie set at Christmas time in a Christmas town doesn’t look or feel remotely like Christmas?

Of course that’s just icing on the cake. The movie is just boring and stupid. I enjoyed it a lot before they got to the Christmas town, which is weird.

BUT this movie is super family-friendly. It’s rated G, after all. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it, but if you have young ones or sensitive older ones who want something new to watch while you hang out drinking wine or wrapping presents or something, this movie is very appropriate. I don’t think kids will especially like it more than, say, The Santa Clause, but it’s absolutely appropriate for people of all ages to watch. So just for that and Nicole de Boer – who I keep wanting to call Patrice – I give this 2 out of 5 stars.

Where to Watch:

As of September 20, 2016, this movie is available to stream on Netflix and Hulu, and you can rent or buy from Amazon Instant Video. Since it’s a direct-to-video movie about Christmas that isn’t very popular, the DVD will be harder to find.

Worst Scene:

At the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, or at least I think this is when it happens, the Mistletoe Guy makes Liz and Patrick Muldoon’s character kiss. He’s all “It’s mistletoe you HAVE to kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” Liz protests that they don’t even know each other, but mistletoe guy just keeps going “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” for a really uncomfortably long amount of time. Liz is clearly not into it, but Mistletoe Guy continues to insist. What would’ve been neat is if Patrick Muldoon’s weird “I look like I’m 45 but I’m acting like a California surfer dude from Saved By the Bell” character did the noble thing and refused to kiss Liz since she clearly did not want to kiss a man she’s known for a day. Mistletoe Guy is without a doubt the creepiest character in the movie, though.

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