I have been on a quest, to watch all of the Netflix holiday films to work out which fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category and which are just so-bad-they-are-frustratingly-rubbish. My search has been limited to just the Netflix ones because not everyone (i.e. me) has access to the Hallmark ones. So, which are the best and worst Netflix holiday movies for 2018?
Attractive gift company heiress (who doesn’t know how to dress for cold weather despite living in New York) goes back to her father’s small hometown to learn the value of Christmas.
The good:Andie MacDowell pretending to be a small-town café owner, who also sings for no good reason, also Janae from neighbours… I mean ‘secret alias Ellie’ is actually pretty likeable.
The bad: Both male characters are dicks, not even just kinda dicks, they’re full-on selfish, boring buttheads who aren’t good enough for the heiress with a heart of gold. The fiancé in these films is always the same – a materialistic knob who doesn’t recognise the true value of the holiday, but this guy has seriously nothing going for him.
Christmassy glow level: A slice of independent Yule Log.
A Christmas Prince
The world’s worst journalist (in the sequel when talking to a source she writes down ‘fishy’ as a note to self) goes to a made-up country that seems suspiciously like Genovia from the Princess Diaries, where she meets a Prince and falls in love.
The good: It has some nice moments, like horse riding in the snow, being saved from wild wolves in the woods and roly-poly snowball fights. Plus, it has the old trope of a hidden identity – that ticking time bomb of we’re falling for each other, but I’ve been lying the whole time.
The bad: The Prince himself needs to put a timer on his phone so he can turn up to events on time.
Christmassy glow level: Like twinkly fairy lights on a dark December evening.
A Christmas Prince 2: Electric Boogaloo
The result of the AI that writes holiday movies growing self-aware.
Just watch the trailer – it has all the major plot points in and will save you a good hour.
The bad: International politics (which much of the film is taken up by) in an imaginary nation are super-duper dull. I kept hoping it might turn into a murder mystery but alas instead the Christmas Prince didn’t have enough time for his fiancée and was too busy making fiscal decisions that he didn’t seem qualified to make. Plus, Amber Moore, full-time blogger (who only seems to blog about herself), was struggling with the idea that maybe marrying into the royal family of a country she knew nothing about might limit her freedom. The words ‘pomp and ceremony’ were used by at least three different characters, which is three too many for me.
The comment about Amber Moore’s dad looking different (and having a personality transplant) all due to him shaving his goatee (and not because they’d changed actors between the films), plus the Amber’s female friend not knowing the name of the magazine they worked for was a little too winky-face self-aware for me.
Christmassy glow factor: Frustrating. Like untangling Christmas tree lights and then discovering there are too many bulbs gone for them to be salvageable.
The Holiday Calendar
A woman is gifted an advent calendar that belonged to her late Grandmother, each item from the calendar somehow finds its way into her life and she starts to wonder if it is predicting her future.
The good: It has unexplained magic in it and the love interest actually seems like a nice guy with her interests in mind.
The bad: Since this is an advent-y Christmas film, it means that the lead character has to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone she meets… from the 1st of December, which is a bit overkill in my book.
Christmassy glow factor: An advent calendar chocolate (just the one though).
The Princess Switch
Vanessa Hudgens is both a baker from Chicago (who likes to advertise this by always wearing a hat with CHICAGO written all over it), and she’s also a Duchess or something from another imaginary European country who for some reason has a weird English accent.
The bad: The rando bloke that turns up everywhere with a hefty wink at the camera, but no explanation of who the hell he is or what he’s got to do with the story.
The good: It’s on the right side of the scales for being so bad it’s good. It’s cheesy and ridiculous, and it knows it. Plus, Gunner off Nashville does a good Prince Charles impression… although this makes his Prince of made-up-country-ovia not particularly attractive.
Christmassy glow factor: A nice warm mug of hot chocolate.
One thing that does give me a weird sense of pleasure is how the timing of these movies is always a bit off. The Holiday Calendar has people saying ‘Merry Christmas’ literally EVERY DAY for all of December. And then all the Prince/Princess movies have massively tight time frames in which to go to a new place, fall in love and decide to get married – even though they would then be helping to rule that country.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the film where all the tiny imaginary countries go to war with one another. I also very much want next year’s selection to involve a large house, snow and a murder that needs solving by an amateur sleuth. Till next year I suppose.
Time to spare?
A bit late now, but you can read here about how reading reviews might change your opinions before you know what they are and more about the psychology of social bias