Holiday Watch: Naughty or Nice

Final Photo AssetsWhen your name is Krissy Kringle, you’re bound to get a lot of grief around Christmas time. But what if you could level the playing field a bit? What if you had Santa’s list of Naughty and Nice to help you mete out justice? Could you handle the list?

The Christmas season for Krissy Kringle (Hilarie Burton) doesn’t start well. Her water is out…or, more specifically, her hot water is out. But that’s OK, because this budding ad-exec is certain to be getting a promotion. Or fired. And then gets a job as a gift-wrapping elf.

Enter: the book. The “Big Brother”y book that Santa uses to help evaluate the naughty and nice levels of pretty much everyone. Krissy soon figures this out and uses the book to find the dirt on a decoration-stealing neighbor, and (she thinks) on her almost-but-not-quite fiance. It turns out that if you flip the book over, you get the nice versions of people’s lives, which helps Krissy see that maybe she’s been myopically misjudging people…most, but not all.

I liked Naughty or Nice. First: it managed to keep the story moving even when it was threatening to bog down. Mostly, I enjoyed it because it was original. Holiday movies, almost by their nature, tend to be formulaic. Plots and tropes are tossed into a bag and pulled out to create a new holiday mash-up. Not so with this film. There’s romance but no romantic antagonist. We have supporting characters who are both heroic and flawed. Throughout the film there is the balance underlined by the movie’s title — the fact that people are generally both naughty and nice to varying degrees.

Is the movie perfect? No. Some scenes are a little padded for time or plot — not annoyingly so, but enough that it sometimes slows the pacing. The book itself serves as a deus ex machina to easily resolve plot conflicts, but amazingly doesn’t come off as an overwhelmingly contrived plot device. It’s necessary to the story as a while and thus doesn’t come off as terribly artificial.

This is a better than average Christmas movie. Is it one you will seek out year after year? Maybe not. However, when you happen across it, it might just suck you in to watching it through to the end.

3.5 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

Photo: Copyright 2012 Crown Media Holdings, Inc./Photographer: Tracey Moris

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