It’s beginning to look a lot like Netflix: New Christmas films ready to stream
After the success of last year’s “The Christmas Prince,” Netflix has hopped on the Hallmark Channel train of producing cheesy but heartwarming original Christmas films, releasing four new films in the last month.
“The Holiday Calendar”
At first glance, “The Holiday Calendar” appears to be an extremely exciting addition to the Christmas movie canon. With two leads of color, the film breaks the usual holiday rom-com mold of featuring primarily (if not completely) white casts. Unfortunately, besides the refreshing casting choices, the film greatly disappoints.
“The Holiday Calendar” follows struggling photographer Abby (Kat Graham), who inherits an advent calendar from her late grandmother that seems to predict the events of each of her days before Christmas, eventually leading her to find love. However, Abby must decide whether that love is with charming doctor Ty (Ethan Peck) or childhood best friend Josh (Quincy Brown).
The film’s dialogue is unbearably cringe-y, even for a schmaltzy Christmas movie, and Abby has little to no chemistry with either of her love interests; thus, the ending is not satisfying enough to make up for the predictability of the film, as viewers root for neither relationship. Even Ron Cephas Jones, who portrays Abby’s lovable, endearing grandfather, can’t save this one.
“The Princess Switch”
In what is in many ways “The Parent Trap” meets “The Christmas Prince” meets “Model Behavior,” Vanessa Hudgens charmingly plays both down-to-earth, ordinary baker Stacey and the classically royal Duchess Margaret of Montenaro (don’t bother Googling—it’s a fake country).
After traveling to Belgravia (another fake country) with her handsome sous-chef Kevin (Nick Sagar) and his adorable daughter Olivia (Alexa Adeosun) to compete in a prestigious Christmas baking competition, Stacey coincidentally runs into Duchess Margaret, who appears to be identical to her.
Tired of her royal life and dreading her upcoming marriage to Prince Edward of Belgravia (Sam Palladio), Margaret proposes that the women perform a classic switcheroo. But when they become just a bit too happy in their new lives, Stacey and Margaret must decide whether to return to their old routines or risk everything for true love.
While the plot may be a bit trite and cliche, the film has an exciting and cheerfully romantic energy to it that makes it feel fresh and modern. It’s not exactly a must-see, but it’s still an undeniably fun and light-hearted watch.
“The Christmas Chronicles”
The only non-romantic of Netflix’s four new releases, this film follows two young siblings who attempt to catch Santa Claus red-hatted (that phrase wasn’t in the film, but it should have been) by setting up a camera in their living room. The kids end up finding themselves in Santa’s sleigh, eventually causing it to crash in Chicago. Santa and the kids are then faced with a series of unfortunate events as they attempt to save Christmas.
Though the plot is pretty weak and unoriginal, the film is saved by Kurt Russell’s brilliant portrayal of Santa Claus. Russell adds an element of cynicism and wit to the role without forsaking Santa’s magical charm. He brings energy to an otherwise dull film, thus raising it from the depths of failed Christmas movies past, but not quite elevating it to the level of classics such as “The Santa Claus” films.
“The Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding”
This comes as the sequel to last year’s widely successful “The Christmas Prince,” in which budding journalist Amber (Rose McIver) goes undercover as a tutor to young Princess Emily of Aldovia (again, fake country) and develops a romance with soon-to-be King Richard (Ben Lamb).
The sequel takes place almost a year after the first installment when Amber returns to Aldovia in preparation for her upcoming wedding to the now king, who learned of her true identity at the end of the last film. However, things take a turn when Amber’s modern ideas for her wedding day fail to meet royal protocol.
Oh, and there’s an entire other plot which leads Amber to try to save the country from corruption and end poverty. So, yeah, it’s a mess.
“The Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding” is painfully predictable. Of course, almost all schmaltzy romances are; however, it’s not in the romantic elements of the film that the problem lies.
The film attempts to add a theme of who-done-it mystery to it by introducing the whole economic corruption sub-plot, but the eventual villain is incredibly obvious from the beginning, even though the film doesn’t mean for it to be.
Though Netflix promoted the film as a romantic film, there is absolutely nothing romantic about it. Amber and Richard lose the little chemistry they had in the first film, and Richard treats Amber horribly; and his behavior is never developed or rectified by the end of the film.