Yes, I know that the title of this Christmas movie may seem misleading to those who may think they are getting a very different form of entertainment. And, yes, I know that people might see my rating of this and want to try slapping some sense into me. So this is the moment when I remind everyone once again that I judge all different movies based on all different criteria. And Christmas TV movies can only be judged against other Christmas TV movies. And I may have watched some of these under the influence of mulled wine.

Naughty Or Nice is summarised in many places as the story of Grinch-like Krissy Kringle (Hilarie Burton) and what trouble she causes when she accidentally receives the famous Naughty Or Nice list, delivered to her because of her name and the fact that she lives on Candy Cane Lane. While that summary is roughly correct, it does the lead character a bit of a disservice. While she starts off the movie not being too happy about Christmas, this is mainly due to her losing her job. It’s also understandable that she’d be a bit fed up of having to explain that her name is not just a Christmas gag, or that she moved into a street that was only named Candy Cane Lane after she became a resident.

While everything that unfolds in the movie is as predictable and sweet as you’d expect, it’s also a lot of fun. There is a decent selection of characters involved (including a neighbour – played by Jessica Tuck – who always likes to organise, and try to win, the annual house decorating competition), a good dose of humour, and a very likeable lead in Burton, who also gets a decent ally in the shape of a department store Santa elf (Gabriel Tigerman). Matt Dallas also does well, playing the boyfriend of Krissy, a role that could have easily been completely thankless. And there’s more fun to be had whenever Krissy encounters her parents, played by Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross.

Director David Mackay doesn’t take any risks, which is perfectly fine when he has Rickie Castaneda’s script to work from, and this will please anyone scouring the channels for inoffensive entertainment. The revelations in time for the grand finale are all very enjoyable, and Castaneda at least tries to surprise viewers occasionally, even if those surprises tend to end up not being very surprising. Be warned, however, that this entertaining bauble is actually enjoyable enough to distract you, which is good for the film but not so good if you’re just wanting a background distraction while you get prepared for Christmas Day.

DIRECTOR: DAVID MACKAY
WRITER: RICKIE CASTANEDA
STARS: HILARIE BURTON, MATT DALLAS, GABRIEL TIGERMAN, MEREDITH BAXTER, MICHAEL GROSS, DANNEEL ACKLES, JESSICA TUCK
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: CANADA/USA

Film Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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