Plot: Kate (Melissa Joan Hart) is a master baker, but her work tends to overpower all the other elements of her life. That results in some amazing treats and a successful business, but her personal life suffers. After she fails to commit to putting their relationship over her work from time to time, Kate winds up dumped by her boyfriend, just in time for the holiday season. This spoils her festive mood of course, but she has to push on, as she has orders for thousands of cookies to fill and local obligations, since the people in her town can’t get enough of her baked goodies. She has some great coworkers, but she needs help in a desperate way, which is what triggers a little holiday magic and a nutcracker is brought to life to lend a hand. Chip (Barry Watson) is said nutcracker and while Kate tries to resist both his charms and his willingness to help, will she break down and see the gift the holidays have brought her?

Entertainment Value: The premise here is a fun one, as a nutcracker comes to life and dates Melissa Joan Hart, a concept that is wild even by Lifetime holiday romance standards, I think. And if you’re curious, yes the living nutcracker does indeed crack a lot of nuts, as Hart’s character is of course a baker. The story is silly, but covers all the bases the genre requires and to me, the light, brisk humor involved makes A Very Nutty Christmas a fun watch. I prefer the holiday movies from Lifetime & Hallmark that are more humor driven than romance driven and while this one has some romance, it isn’t pushed too hard. Instead, the focus stays on humor and characters, then the romance unfolds at a more reasonable pace. Plus when a woman is falling in love with a mystical nutcracker, perhaps a less than whirlwind courtship is in order, right? So rather than the usual heavy handed, sappy romance found in a lot of these holiday romances, this movie goes with a more broad, humorous approach and to me, that results in a more enjoyable, wider appeal kind of picture. So this might be of interest to not just cable television holiday cinema fans, but anyone who appreciates light, silly romantic comedies. As such, I can give this a solid recommendation.

A veteran of these holiday romance movies, Melissa Joan Hart is a good choice for our lead, as she handles these kind of roles quite well. She is able to be likable and make the humorous aspects of the material work, while also being a solid romantic lead, without being overly saccharine. I like that she often has more attitude than most of the leads in these movies, which helps as well. A change of pace can help a formulaic movie stand out a bit, so having Hart’s minor snark helps A Very Nutty Christmas, especially in her reactions to the inevitable romance. I think she does better with the humor than the romantic elements, but that isn’t an issue in this case, since the movie again opts to push the laughs more. She and Barry Watson have some fun banter, so while chemistry isn’t off the charts, the two are fun to watch here. Watson seems to have fun with his goofy role, which also adds to the silliness. The cast here also includes Marissa Jaret Winokur, Rizwan Manji, Conchata Ferrell, and Richard Riehle.

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