The Hallmark Channel is becoming the place where fans of Firefly can spot their favorite actors in holiday movies. Last year, it was Jewel Staite. This year, it’s Summer Glau as an elf who tries to bring back the Christmas spirit to a very busy family. More after the jump (note: does include spoilers)…

In Help for the Holidays, Glau portrays Christine Prancer, an elf in disguise who tries to help Will, a young boy who’s worried his family is losing the Christmas spirit. His parents (Eva Le Rue and Dan Gauthier) put nearly all their time in a Christmas store, and see the holiday more as business, especially when they measure how much a homemade ornament would sell for. Christine does get hired as a nanny, and Will is happy about it. Will’s sister, Ally, is suspicious at first but soon warms up to her. Christine, however, also warms up to their Uncle Dave (John Brotherton), which is something an undercover elf shouldn’t do.

She has some items to help her along, like a magic purse to get anything including cash or colored sugar, and an “Ask Me” book that answers any question.

Glau does a great job as the elf who’s fallen in love with the family she’s trying to help…and Dave, too. She starts off nervous about being part of the “real world”. She especially has a difficult time with high-heeled shoes. It doesn’t take long for her to settle in, and become a confidant to the kids. I also liked La Rue as the mom, especially when she feels threatened by Christine upsetting their Christmas traditions, or maybe that she was jealous. That was a nice twist.

Then Christine kisses Dave, which is forbidden, and she’s sent back to the North Pole. That’s a problem, because the movie about two-thirds over.

Does that mean she can’t finish her mission? The writers should have kept her with the family, then “force” her to choose between love and being an elf. The final decision would have been obvious, but she should have faced that choice.

Also, Ally looked suspicious when she apparently saw Christine use her magic purse and “Ask Me” book. How about having Ally threaten to expose Christine, until she figures out that the elf’s mission would actually help everyone? This was a nice story, but there were lots of missed opportunities.

Still, it’s worth it to see Summer Glau in a different kind of fantasy role with a bit of romance. Here’s hoping that maybe next year, Nathan Fillion can be in a Christmas movie. Imagine him in a Santa suit.

Help For the Holidays airs on the Hallmark Channel through the end of December. Learn more at hallmark

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