Moonlight & Mistletoe (2008)

Ah, there’s nothing like vintage Hallmark Channel and Candace Cameron Bure to get you into the Christmas mood. Don’t expect the old to be new though; 2008 CCB is pretty much the same as 2018 CCB, just with bangs. It seems she’s always had that homeroom mom kind of vibe, the one who knows exactly how to run a bake sale and doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. Except she’s not a mom here, just a harried daughter who’s had it up to here with Christmas.

Holly, as you can guess by her name, has been around Christmas all her life. Ever since she can remember, she’s been working at Santaville, her father’s year-round Christmas themed attraction. We don’t see much of it, but we get a glimpse of the shop and village front and there’s an explosion of snow and festive red everywhere. Naturally, Holly got herself out of there and into a fancy pants college graduate job in the city as soon as she could. When her dad, Nick (Tom Arnold), gets into a sleigh accident, however, she has to return home to help him out.

It’s not just his leg that’s out of sorts though; Nick’s life’s work is in danger of going under too. It turns out that Santaville doesn’t hold the appeal it used to, what with electronic games and all. (Wait until they see the state of malls ten years later.) Nick has a matter of weeks to get his finances in order or else his winter wonderland will be shuttered for good.

Arnold is an interesting choice for the role. He’s no better or worse than others who could have filled the part, but he has about the nuance of a guy on a beer commercial. I’ll generously chalk that up to character since Nick is someone who never reveals his pain, and he’s hiding a lot of it. Besides putting on a brave, and some might say naïve, face about the impending loss of Santaville, he’s also trying to protect himself from the grief he still feels over his wife’s death. It’s a touchy subject for both father and daughter, and Nick, at least, would rather not deal with it or anything he doesn’t feel he can handle.

It’s a lot to take on, and I would have preferred to see more of this relationship, which is messy, fraught, and full of issues that the two need to work out. Holly and Nick often get pushed aside for her relationships with two other men though, neither of whom challenge of her all that much. Ben (Matt Walton) wins her over with his good looks and his proposal to save Santaville while Peter (Christopher Wiehl) is either cute or creepy as the guy who dedicates his life to making nutcrackers after Holly tells him about the ballet. Only one can win her heart and help her return Santaville to its former glory.

Released: 2008
Dir: Karen Arthur
Writer: Joany Kane, Dwayne Poole
Cast: Tom Arnold, Candace Cameron Bure, Barbara Niven, Matt Walton, Christopher Wiehl
Time: 87 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2018