Netflix are taking full advantage of the festivities this year and are churning out the merry movies like this is the last year of Santa and pigs in blankets. But is it all bad? I decided to watch 5 suggested Netflix originals that ooze Christmas so that you (may) not have to!
I can’t sit here and be a grinch about it, because I did enjoy my evenings escaping into a world of cringey but endearing story lines. So sit back and please enjoy my amateur reviews!
1. The Christmas Chronicles (2018) 7.4/10 on IMDb, 66% on rotten tomatoes
“Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus on Christmas eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with a somewhat jolly Saint Nick and his loyal elves to save the holiday before it’s too late”
It follows the classic family-friendly story line of most Christmas films; with a mixture of classic touches with modern twists. It wasn’t overly different to other films out there so doesn’t really stand out amongst the crowd. The siblings recently lost their father, so their nurse mother is working late on Christmas eve (rings many bells). Nonetheless, it was still entertaining and an easy watch that’s ideal for a quiet night in. It held that typical Christmas spirit message which you can’t really go wrong with when it’s one of the best times of year to preach that if you believe you’ll achieve.
It definitely has 2018 written all over it – when the elves starting flossing, my boyfriend and I did look at each other like a mortified middle aged couple. Despite it all, they casted a good Santa and created another good watch. Overall, I’d give it 3/5 stars.
2. Christmas Wedding Planner (2017) 4.5/10 on IMDb, 9% on rotten tomatoes
“A wedding planner is in the midst of planning her cousin’s lavish and exclusive wedding when a devilishly handsome private investigator turns her world upside down”
If I’m honest – the ratings are generous. It was one of those “right okay. Definitely just wasted precious time I’m not going to get back” movies. I had high hopes for this film – it seemed right up my street, a chick flick concept coated in Christmas. Unfortunately, I feel like it had a wasted plot – it was a good concept, but it wasn’t executed to its pull potential. The acting wasn’t the best I’ve seen and I’m sure the Netflix budget doesn’t stretch that far, but they really could have ran with this one.
Of course the word unrealistic comes to mind, but this was on a whole other level you have no choice but to laugh – especially at the ending. I was left confused as to who the target audience was for this film. It struck me as being aimed more towards young adults, but it was stinking of too much cheese. It did have moments of suspense, but when it finally got meat to its bones, it flicked back to a frumpy story line. It killed some time, so I give it 1.5/5 stars.
3. A Christmas Prince (2017) 5.7/10 on IMDb, 75% on rotten tomatoes
“Christmas comes early for an aspiring young journalist when she’s sent abroad to get the scoop on a dashing prince who’s poised to be king”
I think this is my favourite so far. It had elements of predictability throughout, but it really did capture the magic of Christmas; both morally and visually. The story line was more interesting and incorporated important topics and messages such as acceptance, illness, death and even adoption. That sounds quite heavy for a christmas film, but it was delicately addressed in a family friendly manner which I really did appreciate. This automatically added more realism, despite the overall concept being based around love within a royal family in a magical made-up land.
I thought the cinematography was beautiful – it really made the film come alive and distracted some attention away from the odd cringey scene. Not a spoiler, but if you’ve seen Christmas Wedding Planner, it had a similar ending to that. Like before, I feel some aspects were wasted and could have been played out a lot better – but overall it was such a warm and enjoyable movie. There is a second follow-up film called A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding. Which unless you’ve seen the first one, automatically kind of spoils it…I give it 4/5 stars.
4. The Princess Switch (2018) 6.1/10 on IMDb, 100% on rotten tomatoes
“One week before Christmas, a duchess switches places with an ordinary woman from Chicago, who looks exactly like her, and they each fall in love with each other’s beaus.”
This female-led film by childhood star Vanessa Hudgens, mirrors the likes of Freaky Friday, Parent Trap and Princess Diaries, but those films clearly did very well! I do admire the theme I’m seeing this year; strong female leads, important messages and surprisingly, lots of attention around charming, yet obnoxious British royal families.
It didn’t hold back on getting the story line started, which was a pleasant change as you didn’t have to wait a lifetime for it to get going. It didn’t seem to me to be too predictable and the story played out really nicely and overall created a good-hearted, warming film perfect for adding to your list of things to watch. However, Hudgens’ English accent was so exaggerated it would make me sound like a brawly man if you put us side by side. There’s not too much to complain about, other than the lack of originality with a lot of these movies. We’ve seen it before in some shape or form – they even played a snippet of A Christmas Prince as part of one of the scenes, lovely bit of self-promo. I’d give it 4/5 stars.
5. The Holiday Calendar (2018) 5.8/10 on IMDb, 2/5 on rotten tomatoes
“A photographer inherits an antique Advent calendar that seems to predict her future – including a budding romance.”
I inherited my own something for writing about this film; writer’s block. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this film was another one going in the pile of coal. Okay…maybe a bit harsh. I did like the more diverse characters and how it wasn’t just focused on the main leads and the personalities shown were much more relatable. I’m not overly sure what the message is – I found the plot to be quite dull at points and I can back that up by the fact I found myself scrolling aimlessly through twitter just an hour in. The story line definitely had less cringe in it that the other films I’ve seen/heard about, so if you fancy watching something that’s less of a christmas-smack-to-the-face and more of a laid back film – then maybe give this a go. The timeless romance always makes you glad when it plays out the way you want it to.
One thing I did notice, was that similarly to The Princess Switch, the shameless Netflix self-promo popped up during a scene when the main lead is watching TV during her pity party state. Despite the expected levels of cringe, I’ve enjoyed getting more into the Christmas spirit this year – but just wish films wouldn’t be so cliché and follow a different story line other than the “X family member has passed away, I hate my job, omg there’s my prince charming”. I give it a 2.5/5 stars.
So there are my 5 reviews for these Netflix originals. I feel like I’ve been quite a negative Nancy, so if you’ve got any recommendations for any festive films you love – please let me know I’d be glad to give them a watch! Thanks so much for reading.
Until next time,