Santa has a problem: one of his “power stations” that help him through his night of present giving is going dark. It’s up to plucky elf Clementine to once again ensure that the yearly event will find the Northpole — Open For Christmas.
The power station in question is a Vermont hotel: the Northern Lights Mountain Inn. Its long-time owner, Grace, has passed and left it to her niece, Mackenzie Warren (Lori Loughlin), an increasingly successful estate appraiser. Not knowing what to do with the inn, despite it’s pleasant childhood memories, she visits it with the intent to sell it.
Mackenzie meets a real estate agent, who is very eager to sell the “money pit”, as well as his handyman brother, Ian Hanover (Dermot Mulroney), who has looked after the inn for years.
Upon arriving at the Inn, Mackenzie renews her acquaintance with the two remain staff: Wilson and Betty. In sort order, Clementine (Bailee Madison) arrives and is introduced as Wilson’s grandniece, giving her a convenient excuse to stick around. As the days tick closer to Christmas, everyone at the inn, plus Ian and his daughter Jenny, work on “Mac” as she vacillates between wanting to sell and then to keep the inn — which, of course, she eventually does. Mission accomplished, and just in time, too.
As a follow-on to the disappointing Northpole, I came into this edition not expecting to be greatly entertained (except, of course, by the always enthused Bailee Madison). I was pleasantly surprised.
The first surprise was the recast Santa, who was a major improvement and set the fantastical mood very well. Surprise number two was Mackenzie. So often in these sorts of films, the person to be turned is just this side of evil. That’s not the case here. While Mac is a little out of balance in terms of cost vs value, and lives an insulated life, she’s generally of good cheer and a basically good person despite her well-developed sense of utility.
Not surprising was the huge influx of elves. Those all were telegraphed, but that also added to the fun since we viewers got to earn our perception points ahead of Mac.
The movie moved at a good pace and maintained a lighter spirit, even during the darker complications in story and character. The score was solid and the denouement tied everything up. Even the special effects fit the movie’s style.
Northpole — Open For Christmas accomplishes a lot of what you want in a holiday movie: it entertains. It’s only fault is that, at times, it borders on being treacly, but it manages to prevent toeing over the line. If you want a some uplifting, light Christmas fantasy, I recommend you check it out. In fact, I’ll go one better: if they can make one at least as good for next year, I’ll look forward to it.
|3.75 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Philippe Bosse