In the evermore popular world of streaming, Netflix has managed to corner yet another market: The Christmas Romance Movie Phenomenon. It all began in December 2017, when Netflix added two movies to its ever-expanding roster of films, A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance. These movies exploded onto the scene with aplomb. Viewers were treated to two different worlds that were connected by the magic of the Christmas holiday, both of which promised to connect their viewers to a stunning, over-romanticised worldview. This year, these two films were joined by two more Christmas themed movies, The Holiday Calendar and The Princess Switch. But what is it really that makes these films so special?
A CHRISTMAS PRINCE
A Christmas Prince was a hit from the minute it hit the roster. The film follows Amber Moore, a young journalist who’s sent to the country of Aldovia in order to cover the coronation of Prince Richard. Through a series of wacky coincidences (of which have populated every Christmas movie over the years), Amber finds herself working as the family’s tutor in order to gain access to the royal family, but finds herself falling in love instead. The film was a hit. Leaning on the very over-the-top, broad comedy style that underlines ever great Christmas movie to hit television, A Christmas Prince indulges on overacting, convoluted plotlines, and the disastrous trope of courting built on lies, yet for some reason, viewers just can’t turn away. Even to the point where 53 people watched the film every day for 18 days, unable to shake their insatiable need for the ridiculous union of these two characters who were basically strangers for the entire duration of the film. The immense popularity spurred Netflix to follow-up the Christmas romance with a sequel based on the characters’ wedding.
Regardless of so-bad-its-good nature, A Christmas Prince and it’s sequel both receive 2 out of 5 sneakers under a ball gown.
Unlike A Christmas Prince, Christmas Inheritance manages to be a significantly more grounded film while still existing within the fantastical ideals placed in just about every holiday romance world, allowing characters and performances to sparkle in their own right. The film follows Ellen Langford, a New York City-living, so-called “party heiress” who is entrusted by her father to deliver Christmas letters to his old business partner in the small town of Snow Falls. There she meets and falls in love with a BNB proprietor and realises there’s more to life than partying and having a good time. While not the sleeper hit that A Christmas Prince turned out to be, the film still won over audiences with its fresh perspective and overall grounded chemistry between each of the characters. Christmas Inheritance never managed to step too broadly like its predecessor, however, the film added about five more pratfalls to its runtime, making sure that the audience truly understood the quirky nature of the lead character.
Simply for being my favourite of the bunch, Christmas Inheritance gets 5 out of 5 Christmas letters.
THE HOLIDAY CALENDAR
Taking notice that audiences were hungry for more Christmas treats, Netflix conjured up a slew of new movies a year later in what may now be a recurring thing for the company. In addition to the aforementioned two, the streaming service added The Holiday Calendar, The Princess Switch, and the highly anticipated Christmas Prince sequel, A Christmas Prince 2: Royal Wedding to its site in November this year. Adding a little bit of magic to the mix, The Holiday Calendar takes a more intrinsic approach to the genre. The film depicts Abby Sutton, a struggling photographer dreaming of owning her own photography business, as she’s gifted with a magical advent calendar from her grandpa that can predict the future. Not terribly subtle, the movie makes use of its runtime by depicting how the magic of the season can bring two people together, even as the calendar itself becomes less and less important to the story before eventually disappearing for half of it. Helping the film maintain some strength is in the performance of Kat Graham as she exudes confidence and chemistry with every single character that graces the screen. And in Quincy Brown, for having the most adorable smile this side of Noah Centineo.
This season, I’m giving The Holiday Calendar 3 out of 5 magical advent calendars.
THE PRINCESS SWITCH
Finally, the crown for this year’s biggest and most anticipated Christmas film rests solely on the head of the Vanessa Hudgens-lead The Princess Switch. The film follows Stacy DeNovo and Margaret Delacourt, two identical looking women, one a princess and one a humble baker, as they meet and decide to switch places for two days. The film capitalises on the draw of its lead and the fact that she can attract younger audiences who are more than happy to indulge in a story of love and royal magic. While the chemistry is off the charts between the two lead characters and their suitors, the film builds upon the basic princess-to-be storyline that has been overdone in the Christmas film genre, while also skirting the Parent Trap-style storyline pitfalls. Both characters have a humble nature to their personalities and their identity that makes you instantly fall in love with them and root for them to succeed, but while the royal-set romance may start out as the bigger draw, audiences will find themselves more invested in the romantic development of the princess and the chef’s best friend, Kevin. Although, the most unrealistic part of the movie may be how Kevin’s ex-wife left him (he’s way too good looking to even be on this planet).
For their amazing baking skills, I’ll give The Princess Switch 4 out of 5 hot dads.
This Christmas there’s a whole subset of films just waiting to be unboxed. If you’re in the mood for a little bit of Christmas romance and listening to All I Want For Christmas Is You isn’t cutting it, then these over-the-top, soapy fun films are at the ready to give your holiday season that little bit of sparkle. While not entirely in the same league as holiday classics such as Elf or Love Actually, Netflix’s subset of Christmas films is enough to bring some joy to those nights sitting at home with some wine (or spiked eggnog) and popcorn. There’s just enough Christmas love to go around.
A Christmas Prince 1 & 2, Christmas Inheritance, The Holiday Calendar, and The Princess Switch, are available to stream now on Netflix.