12 Days of Netflix: Christmas Land
James R | On 17, Dec 2020
“I loved Christmas so much that I made an entire holiday village.” That was the grandmother of Jules (Nikki DeLoach), who built Christmas Land years ago in a small rural town. Fast forward to the present day and Nikki, a successful marketing professional, discovers that she’s inherited the land – literally. And so she returns to the festive landmark of his childhood and decides whether to sell it or not.
All of this comes to a shock to her boyfriend (Jason-Shane Scott), who is undoubtedly the right match for her, and leads her to cross paths with local lawyer Tucker (Luke Macfarlane), who loves Christmas Land, remembers Jules from years ago and is obviously not in anyway going to be her real romantic match by the end of the film. Christmas Land, true to its Hallmark origins, is a film very content to do things by the book – the problem is that it doesn’t do enough of it right to get away with being so conventional.
From the opening scenes – in which Jules declares on the phone that “Wear Red Go Green” has “officially gone viral” – the movie’s plot and characters ring false, whether it’s the unconvincing professional conversations she has or the way the local townspeople almost immediately start being rude towards her when they hear she might sell off Christmas Land.
The land itself, it turns out, spans a couple of hundred acres, which means that reopening everything will support the jobs and livelihood of many people. But this isn’t a film concerned with economics or the way that certain parts of the USA have struggled in recent years, and the residents we meet are as two-dimensional as they come. This wouldn’t be a problem if they fulfilled their part of the formula, but an obligatory moment of community spirit is so overly generous that it makes the entire plot redundant, while even Jules’ central moral dilemma is all over the place – one moment she’s given a clear plan and opportunity to save the day and the next scene she’s lamenting that all is lost with no mention of it.
Nikki DeLoach and Luke Macfarlane make a nice enough couple, but without any reason to care about what they’re doing or the well-being of their local community, Christmas Land rings as hollow as a cheap chocolate Santa – with the one exception of Chad Rehmann’s cleverly composed score, which inventively toys with Christmas staples to match the mood of each scene. Next time, hopefully Hallmark loves Christmas so much that it makes a film to live up to its cast and soundtrack.
Christmas Land is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.