Christmas Land (2015)


Despite what you may think, Christmas Land is not a movie about what goes on behind the scenes at the Hallmark Channel, though I think that would be a more interesting movie than the one the did make. Instead, it’s about a holiday-loving town called Christmas Land that is in danger of being sold to developers by the founder’s granddaughter, who doesn’t want to sacrifice her life and career in New York. At least I think it’s about a town anyway. I couldn’t quite figure out because Jules (Nikki Deloach) seems to have inherited everything – the land, the buildings, but everyone keeps talking about opening up the place again like it was a theme park or festival.

Regardless, the end is nigh, a sad coda to a once vibrant place where all things Christmas could take root and blossom. Started by Glinda Stanwick (Maureen McCormick) to keep the festive spirit alive all year round, the town eventually lost its holiday magic after her death and, for some unknown reason – there are many of those in Hallmark movies, no one else in Christmas Land has been able to assume the role of mayor or head elf or cheermeister or whatever they call the person in charge.

That is why everyone is so upset when Jules announces she’s selling the place. It’s reasonable for the townspeople to be troubled by her decision, but why the fixation on her running it? No one seems to care that she has a job she loves in a city she loves. Instead, they low-key bully her into feeling like she should be a replicate of her grandmother. Well, it works for the story so bullying be damned, and Jules does think twice about her relationship with Christmas Land, reflecting on happy memories and considering the financial and emotional impact it would have on the residents.

A big reason for her change of heart is lawyer and country boy, Tucker (Luke Macfarlane). Their romance is a slow burn, but it’s clear that her greasy businessman boyfriend who lies about graduating top of his law school is not for her. Sure, they both like wine bars and condos on the Upper West Side, but this is Hallmark and when you have a choice between New York City and some snowy outpost where people say things like “darn tootin’,” you go for the latter.

For a movie about a whole town that’s consumed by Christmas, this just didn’t bring much spirit to my evening. Deloach and Macfarlane are both likable actors, but the script dampens their fire. Maybe if the place was a little loonier and there were real attractions, I might have enjoyed it more. Instead, the draw seems to be glittery arts and crafts for the kids, sleigh rides, and a Christmas tree lighting in the town center. Last time I checked, lots of people around the country also do festive things like hang lights and bake cookies, so Christmas Land, you’re not that special.

Released: 2015
Dir: Sam Irvin
Writer: Robin Archer, Jay Cipriani
Cast: Nikki Deloach, Luke Macfarlane, Maureen McCormick, Cynthia Gibb, Richard Karn, Jason-Shane Scott
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2016