For my first post, I wanted to do a fresh new Hallmark Christmas movie to fit the holiday spirit that still hit all the key elements I love, and BOY does Moonlight & Mistletoe deliver. We’ve got Candace Cameron Burre, aka the Queen of Hallmark, paired with a storyline that includes 1) Christmas 2) a woman who works too hard! 3) her family in financial trouble! 4) a love triangle! Like, one of these alone is what I usually expect, but all of them??? This is a Christmas miracle.
Ok, so let’s dive in. So in addition to Candace, the movie also stars Tom Arnold as the dad, who ISWTG (I swear to God, I made that up but it feels right, so I’m keeping it here) I thought was dead! I guess that was just his career. Anyway, Candace plays Holly – bonus points for her name being Christmas related – and we open up on a young Holly working at Santaville, the family business that celebrates Christmas year round. She’s PO’d because she’s like eleven and has to work all the time, I get it. A “cute” boy walks in (he looks like a Hanson brother), they do some teen flirting, she teaches him what nutcrackers are (this is both pathetic because how does he not know this AND important to the story later on!) They talk for literally three minutes and they have an ~instant connection~. We also learn that he makes wooden necklaces (ALSO IMPORTANT!). She gets distracted for a millisecond doing her job (just because she’s eleven doesn’t mean she is bad at her job, ok?) and he manages to leave without saying goodbye – but he does leave behind one of those weird wooden necklaces. Another important detail we get from this moment is that not only does her dad use her for child labor – he also refuses to acknowledge her as a daughter, instead only referring to her as an elf.
Flash forward to Holly as an adult. She’s a sales manager for some retailer in Boston and
she’s good at her job. How do we know? Because she is SO BUSY. Note that in any of these movies, if the lead character is BUSY in the beginning, it means they are TOO INTO THEIR JOB. Big theme here. She’s avoiding going home for the holidays and I can’t really blame her because her dad doesn’t acknowledge her as a daughter. But as these things go, her dad gets in a sleigh accident (I know.) and she has to come back to Santaville to take care of him.
Within minutes of Holly being home, she meets Peter who works for her dad, and for some reason, is also always around the house. He’s wearing a casual jacket which is our clue that he is the man for her. (Note that if a guy is wearing flannel or anything casual, he’s the guy she’s going to end up with. If the guy is wearing a suit or a button up, he’s the distraction man, not the man she’ll actually be
with.) Once she gets home, her dad basically orders her to make a pot roast, and we learn that Santaville is in DEEP financial troubles. Holly takes it seriously because she’s all business and busy all the time and the dad doesn’t because, well, he’s kinda the worst. He’s mortgaged to his eyeballs! What are they going to do!? They’ll lose Santaville!
Now it’s boy time. So we already have Peter in the picture who randomly works with the dad and is always at the house, and now enter Ben, a button-up wearing financial advisor. Love triangle brewing! They are set up on a blind date by a random nobody, Holly talks about her dad’s financial troubles, and BOOM, Ben has a solution! He knows some people who could become silent partners to save Santaville, all she needs to do is convince her dad. Can she do it? After this, Holly sees Ben working at Santaville carving some wood – and he’s carving nutcrackers. If you couldn’t guess by now, he’s the same boy from the beginning with all the teen flirting and the wooden necklace! Apparently, that one 3-minute conversation had an impact on his entire career and life trajectory. Now that Holly knows who he is, they talk, they both hated their parents, he casually says he went to college FOR A DECADE (writers, what you doing???!). Let’s get back to the money problems…
Dad originally says no to silent partners (you know, he wants to actually own his property) which then becomes a whole conversation with Holly finally telling her dad that he’s the worst and needs to remember that he has a daughter even if he’s upset his wife died years ago (Yeah, classic dead mom). The dad finally realizes he is a jerk, he apologizes and kicks it into high gear to be a good dad – and he starts by signing the contract to save Santaville.
But not so fast! Turns out Ben is a WEASEL. Right after Holly gets her dad to sign the contract, Holly and Ben go for a celebratory dinner and Holly overhears Ben on the phone (like at least go into a private room, dude) laying out how the contract makes it so that if the dad doesn’t pay off his loan by Christmas (so basically like 5 days), then the whole property goes to the businessmen. SO YEAH, we knew it! No casual shirts!
Holly, Peter, and Dad decide to give it their best try and launch a campaign to get people to visit Santaville. While talking about those damn nutcrackers again, Holly and Peter FINALLY KISS! They say something about how painting a nutcracker is stressful because you have to paint a face you want to look at for life, and that somehow is romantic and leads to kissing. Basically, they kiss once after talking for 3 minutes when they were 11 and they’ve promised eternity to each other.
Turns out Peter’s nutcrackers are DOPE and someone decided to buy one for $500! Holly and Peter decide to start selling them and make some mad cash! They’re so close to reaching their money goal, but they’re falling just short and it’s almost Christmas! Luckily, Holly’s boss from Boston saw those dope nutcrackers and wants to make their business the exclusive seller of the nutcrackers. WOO. THEY SAVED SANTAVILLE! And now with the nutcrackers at her business, she gets to move back home and be a good daughter to her now-nice dad and be with casual shirt and nutcracker-obsessed Peter! And of course, since it’s Hallmark, we learn they got married and had a baby within a year.
Overall, this movie checks every box I asked it to – it’s the perfect level of cheesy, it has all the classic Hallmark tropes, and was a good amount of uncomfortable with all those nutcrackers. I give it an 8.