Yes, primarily Hallmark have used the “Northpole” movies to sell whatever kitschy Christmas ornament they’re touting for the year, but they’ve accidentally built a neat Christmas movie series I want to see more of. Years ago, I would have really loved the adventures of Clementine the Elf, and her quest to restore the Christmas spirit in one unhappy soul. Right now, she’s still a charming Christmas heroine played by the always adorable Bailee Madison. Madison doesn’t even have to do much to look like an Elf, as she’s given pointy ears, and achieves the rest with her wide smile, and large saucer eyes.
“Open for Christmas” is the sequel to the original “Northpole” from 2014, where we met Clementine the Elf. A little older and making her way in the Elf world as an innovator for kids toys, Clementine is called upon by Santa himself. Santa relies on various spots around the world filled with the Christmas spirit to fuel his sleigh, since the magic diminishes the farther he gets from the North Pole. It seems one of his bigger posts has been fading, and Clementine is sent there to restore the magic of Christmas for Santa. While there she meets McKenzie, a businesswoman with an inability to appreciate sentimentality. She’s played by Lori Loughlin (who still looks very pretty) who values cash over nostalgia, and inherits the Northern Lights Inn from her late aunt.
In an attempt to appraise the Inn for a big payday, McKenzie discovers the Inn has a beating heart within its staff, including a trusty handyman named Jack and his rambunctious daughter Jenny. All McKenzie needs is the handsome man to convince her that she needs some of the Christmas spirit she lost as a child to bring her around, which makes Clementine seem kind of useless in some instances. Plus, we’re never quite sure of Clementine is on assignment for the sake of Santa, or for genuinely wanting to help McKenzie reclaim the spirit she lost after being abandoned by her mother as a child. That said, “Open for Christmas” is a nice and sweet follow up to the first film.
It embraces the positive message of the Christmas spirit, and remembering our inner child, while also following a heroine who is always upbeat and smiling. It’s tough to hate Dermot Mulroney, as he is always restrained and charming, and works well off of Loughlin. Madison keeps Clementine likable and admirable, and always pulls back enough to prevent the character from feeling cloying or irritating. She’s a very interesting and original protagonist with a simple and one note goal in her adventures. Hallmark has obviously pegged her for future films to help keep the spirit of Christmas alive, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more follow ups. As Christmas movies, the “Northpole” series is bright, vibrant, sweet, and dripping with Christmas joy.