My team at work is doing a rainbow unicorn Christmas decoration theme (I found this!). In the spirit of embracing the utter silliness, I have embarked upon an ambitious scheme of watching one Hallmark-style* Christmas movie every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Madness, indeed.
Not that they’re hard to find on Netflix, but I’ve found a handy list of all the Christmas movies available right now.
I’m just going to give my elevator-pitch summary of the experience. I’m not going recap plots, which are trivially easy to find online (let’s be honest: so are reviews). I’ll also include a link to a review I think pretty accurately reflects the experience.
When Christmas is over, I may try to synthesize my sincere thoughts on these — there’s a lot to say about stuff like gender equality, glorification of wealth and consumerism, women’s role in society, and so much more — but for now let’s just leave it light and fluffy.
Week 1 | November 25, 2018 | The Princess Swap
In this movie, you’ll literally know exactly what’s going to happen from the moment the premise is revealed. There’s not one single moment of surprise or even concern that you might not know what’s going to happen. In fact, the director even said so himself:
Most of the similarities between The Princess Switch and its obvious predecessors—particularly The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries—were intentional. “All we’re really doing is doing a new arrangement of somebody else’s orchestration, and putting our own color to it,” Rohl said.Vanity Fair: “The Princess Switch Director Answers Burning Questions About Netflix’s Christmas Sensation.”
Sadly, there’s not much chemistry or even acting involved, although there are the occasional wacky hijinks.
Yet it checks all the boxes of a classic Hallmark Christmas movie (including incredibly low production quality), with the kind of mindless sweetness and predictability you must might be hankering for as an escape from the harsh reality of immigration conflicts, climate change politics, etc.
Overall: I acknowledge that it was formulaic, yet I still loved it.
CNet: “The Princess Switch review: Not the classic holiday rom-com 2018 deserves.”
Week 2 | December 1, 2018 | A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
If you didn’t watch A Christmas Prince last year, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything that won’t be amply recapped in the first five minutes. Plus, like A Princess Swap, they strictly adhere to the formula, ensuring that you don’t even need to stay awake for the entire movie to know exactly what’s happening at every moment. On two separate instances, Ian anticipated word-for-word the exact next phrase the character would say.
Unfortunately, I found this way less enjoyable than the original Christmas Prince or A Princess Swap. It’s ostensibly a romance, but most of it follows the strangely hapless, clueless Amber as other people trample her desires — no romance in sight. The few scenes with her and the prince (King?) are so lacking in chemistry they can’t make up for the lack.
Vox: “Netflix’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is straight trash. But it’s cozy trash.“
*”Style” because (a) they are probably going to be made by Netflix, not actually Hallmark; and (b) I’m counting Muppet Christmas Carol, which will, without doubt, be the best one of the lot. Because it’s one of the, if not THE, best Christmas movie of all time.