Grab your Santa hats, everyone, because for the fifth installment of the Twelve Days of Christmas movies we’re heading to “Christmas Town”! Come and see one and all the joys of Hollyville (“America’s Favorite Christmas Town”!) and have your workaholic, Christmas-ambivalent heart melted.
Our film centers around Liz McCann (Nicole de Boer of “Cube” and “Deep Space Nine” fame), a hard working uber-real estate agent and single mother. Liz don’t got no time for Christmas and can’t stand the way her business slows down around that special time of year. She can’t be bothered to Christmas for her son (Gig Morton, best known for his work on the august “Air Buddies” series of films about golden retriever puppies in various hilarious situations) and blows off invitations to Hollyville from her father, a wealthy, successful banker who just quit his job to move there and start his life anew. Mason, Liz’s son, however, convinces her that they should go and check on grandpa and make sure he’s not gone nutty.
Liz and Mason make there way to Hollyville, which I assume is supposed to be in California because it’s beautifully sunny and snow-free in the middle of December. If it looks more like the forests of British Columbia in the springtime to you, that’s because it is. Beautiful, tree and tax break filled BC, the perfect place for filming everything from the X-Files to Christmas films.
Speaking of the X-Files, Hollyville turns out to be a strange place. It is, for instance, not on any maps. Liz finds it accidentally when her car breaks down outside of the town and her and her son spot a reindeer in the woods. They also spot what looks like a federal penitentiary in the distance and decide to hike through the forest to get there. What they find looks like a cross between a prison and a Costco, staffed by guards dressed as elves and toy soldiers. Trucks going in and out of the building are marked N.P. Enterprises, and I’ll give you one guess what N.P. stands for.
Shooed away from the factory Liz and Mason find grandpa working at the Egg Nog Cafe, the town’s only restaurant. Liz grows concerned and starts muttering asides about “drinking the Kool Aid” and having stepped into “a very special Christmas episode of the Twilight Zone”. The “cult of Christmas”, as she calls it, is strong in this town. Her and Mason decide to stay for Christmas, see what’s going on in this strange town, and watch grandpa, who has gone from cynical banker to jolly, holiday loving fry cook in the span of a few weeks.
Mason, for his part, is a slippery little bastard. He’s constantly running away from mom and grandpa and trying to sneak a peek into the massive federal prison-looking complex that is NP Enterprises. He also spends a lot of time secretly inspecting a sleigh the town mechanic is working on in lieu of fixing Liz’s car so they can get out of town. His mom seems remarkably unconcerned with all of this disappearing and investigating, no matter how safe everyone insists Hollyville is.
Will our pair get to the bottom of what’s going on in this mysterious town? Probably. Will Santa be involved? Maybe. Will Liz be attacked by an aggressive, mistletoe wielding townsperson at a tree lighting ceremony and be pressured into kissing Patrick Muldoon? You bet your sweet bippy she will.
All in all, the film is strange enough and well made enough to keep you interested. I give it a solid 4.27 out of 5 Santa’s Sleighs for general quality and 4.78 out of 5 Novelty Reindeer Mugs for Christmasness. It does feature epaulet clad prison guards, after all.