Northpole (2014) (DVD)


Part one in an apparent movie series from Hallmark Entertainment, “Northpole” is a cute film about Christmas, and trying to preserve the happiness. Literally. It’s a simple and down to Earth movie that celebrates the more entertaining aspects of the holiday, while also building on a new hero in the form of elf Clementine. Bailee Madison is the definition of adorable as the rambunctious cherubic elf, desperately trying to keep the North Pole from dying what with the happiness of Christmas fading away in a sea of unfortunate cynicism. “North Pole” depends on Madison’s enthusiastic performance, and as always, she steals the movie. “North Pole” has its fair share of silliness, but it’s a fine Christmas movie with amusing quirks that I sat through with ease.

Tiffani Thiessen and Max Charles are charming as mother and son Kevin and Chelsea, both of whom have just moved in to a new town. Kevin is sad that his new town is all but avoiding celebrating Christmas and not lighting the tree, while Chelsea is sent to investigate why the park that used to hold the tree lighting suddenly isn’t. She learns that a business executive is planning to steam roll it to build condos, but Kevin is determined to keep the park and instill the Christmas spirit.

He’s helped by the adorable Clementine who at first begins communicating through a magical radio, and then takes Kevin to the North Pole to show him how dire the situation is involving toy production and its magic dying. Kevin and Clementine now go back to his home to help inject the Christmas spirit by spreading cheer, and trying to convince others to light the tree for the holidays. I just wonder if anyone in Kevin’s town ever heard of a computer or the internet before, as his mom spends her time sifting through the library rather than searching the internet.

Kevin also never seems to be doing anything but sitting in his room and moping. Hallmark has a knack for creating adorable heroic elves, and Madison is up to the task, giving the movie a whimsy and fun that helps liven the film up. I wish we could have seen more of the North Pole, as there are peeks at glacial decorations, houses that the elves live in, and even their city that includes a trampoline as an alternative to crossing a bridge. I quite enjoyed Josh Hopkins as Kevin’s child like teacher.

Robert Vaughn appears as Santa Claus a few times, but really doesn’t add anything to the film, which is a shame since he could have played well off of the characters and instill some awe for the audience. I also found the big investigation involving the park tedious, often dragging the momentum down. That said, “North Pole” is in the tradition of “Miracle on 34th Street” with the bright eyed kid trying to remind his all business single mom how fun the holidays can be with the help of a magical being. It works as entertaining and sweet comfort food for Christmas fans.