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Northpole: Open for Christmas, Hallmark Channel
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This first aired in 2015; it's the sequel to Northpole. I didn't like this as much as the first movie, but it was still okay. I wouldn't say the first movie was super original, but this one was definitely a very cliched plot. (Then again, how many Christmas movies aren't cliched?) Anyway, Lori Loughlin plays Mackenzie Reed, whose job involves moving from place to place, so she never stays anywhere too long. (She's been in her current residence, which I think is in New York? for a year, but still hasn't unpacked.) And... I forget exactly what her job title is, but it has something to do with convincing people to sell stuff. Like, things they've inherited, or whatever, I dunno. The point is, she doesn't hold any attachments to her own past, and she doesn't believe anyone else should, either. Apparently. Anyway, at the start of the movie, she's contacted by a lawyer named Elfman (played by Derek McGrath), who represented Mackenzie's aunt Grace, who died a year ago. Grace left her hotel, the Northern Lights Inn, to Mackenzie, much to her surprise. She used to visit her aunt at the inn every Christmas when she was a kid (until the second grade, which I guess means it couldn't have been that many Christmases). She always loved those visits, but something happened one year that made her father decide she should stop going to the inn (but I won't spoil what it was that made him decide this).

Well, Mackenzie plans to sell the inn, but Elfman convinces her to take a trip to the small Vermont town where it's located, and have a look before making a final decision. When she gets there, she meets the only two members of the staff who still work at the inn, Wilson and Betty. She also meets a local handyman named Jack (Dermot Mulroney), a widower with a young daughter named Jenny. Both of them love the inn, which is very special not only to them, but apparently to everyone in town. However, the inn has fallen somewhat into disrepair over the years, and generally has no guests except for the annual Christmas party Grace used to host there. There's also a realtor named Harris, who has a buyer lined up to purchase the inn. And he's eager for Mackenzie to make a decision, since if she doesn't sell before the new year, she'll owe a hefty estate tax, I guess. But Jack convinces her to at least try to fix the place up before selling, in the hopes that the new owner would keep it open, instead of tearing it down. Though he'd prefer for her to decide not to sell it at all.

Meanwhile, in Northpole, Santa assigns Clementine a new mission. (Btw, Clementine is the only major character from the first movie to appear in this one. And Santa is played by a different actor, this time.) It's not as urgent as the mission from the first movie, but it's still kind of important. Apparently there are places all over the world that help generate Christmas spirit that... somehow affects Santa's flightplan. And the Northern Lights Inn is one of those places. Since Grace's passing, it's lost its magic, and now Santa wants Clementine to encourage Mackenzie to take up the position of innkeeper and maintain her aunt's annual tradition, to restore the magic. So... she and Randy the reindeer fly down there, and she stays in the inn (saying that Wilson is her uncle, or something). She immediately befriends Mackenzie and Jack and Jenny. And pretty much everyone (especially Jenny) immediately starts trying to get Mackenzie and Jack to become a couple. (I think it's kind of weird that there always has to be a romantic angle to movies like this, especially since the two of them obviously want different things out of life. Speaking of which, I also don't love the fact that Mackenzie is forced to decide whether to suddenly take up a job she knows nothing about, or continue in the career she's spent many years working on and apparently loves. But whatever. That's just how movies work.)

And... I'm not sure what else to say. There's a local boy named Jimmy (I think), who is apparently meant to be a potential love interest for Clementine, though not much is done with that, and the two or three very brief scenes he's in seem totally tacked-on and unnecessary and kind of awkward. Other than that... the whole story is very predictable and, as I said, unoriginal. But it has the requisite heartwarming conclusion, and it wasn't really a bad movie. It had a few good bits, and the rest... well, at least I never found it annoying, as I would most Hallmark Christmas movies (if I bothered to watch them).


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