We’re watching the new batch of Netflix Christmas movies as they arrive – and we’ll keep you posted as to which are worth a viewing.
November is here at last (heck, it’s nearly December)! Halloween has come and gone. The leaves have turned brown and dropped to the ground. The temperature has dropped, the heating has gone on and, yes, Netflix has started dropping its brilliant/awful/hilarious/tacky/cheesy/warm and fuzzy Christmas films into our broken 2020 laps.
Not to worry if you don’t know a Christmas prince from a Christmas inheritance, or are yet to learn that Santa is hot and two lots of Vanessa Hudgens are even better than one, we’re here to guide you through these delicious and much-needed sweet treats.
But before we kick off with this year’s offerings, if you’re new at this then you might want to make sure you delve into the best of recent years and watch those first:
- The Christmas Chronicles (Kurt Russell as a sexy Santa, sequel coming this year with Goldie Hawn along for the fun)
- A Christmas Prince (It may be debatable whether you need to watch the sequels but this first one is actually pretty good)
- The Princess Switch (Vanessa Hudgens meets… Vanessa Hudgens and they decide to swap lives for one last hurrah – with, ya know, hilarious consequences, obviously – sequel coming this Christmas and yes Hudgens plays THREE OF THEM now)
- Holiday Rush (A very cute offering about a family used to having so much stuff and not realising how much love they already had. Fixing priorities mixed with a little grief and starting over. Gorgeous.)
- The Knight Before Christmas (Another Vanessa Hudgens offering, this is pure cheese but it’s well-made cheese. Corny. Sweet. Hearts being thawed. Kindness to others. Having faith. Just what we need!)
- BONUS: not the greatest offering but if you’re a fan of animals then the setting and the many gorgeous elephants in Holiday In The Wild make for a fun watch.
So get yourself a cosy jumper, make a hot chocolate (go on, throw in some marshmallows) and settle in for this year’s Netflix Christmas films as they arrive…
THE 2020 CURRENT RANKING
1. Jingle Jangle
This is a joyous adventure story, full of magic and wonder, about a genius toymaker who loses it all when his assistant steals his creations. The film channels The Greatest Showman vibes with the music and dance numbers and has a marvellous cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad and the voice of Ricky Martin. There are also gorgeous costumes to enjoy and plenty of visual splendour. David E Talbert has brought us a real delight for all ages with this one and you’ll be checking out the soundtrack when you’re done watching it!
2. The Christmas Chronicles 2
There are two things I remember vividly from the first Christmas Chronicles film: an overwhelming concern about how attractive I found Santa and my delight when Goldie Hawn showed up at the very end as Mrs Claus. I recall there being a brother and sister on an adventure with Santa but I couldn’t tell you what the actual adventure was. Imagine my surprise then when I found this sequel far more memorable and enjoyable.
While Kate (Darby Camp) is stuck on a family holiday with a man she worries is out to replace her late father, a bad elf (Julian Dennison) is out to sabotage Christmas and determined to use Kate as his way to get back into the North Pole and get his revenge. It’s not long before Santa has to enlist his friends to save the day. Cue fun, silliness, heart and adventure with a few welcome additions along the way. Bringing Goldie Hawn in, in particular, is a stroke of genius, as is giving her screen time with partner Kurt Russell. They’re adorable and charming together and two minutes in their company made me want them to be my parents!
The film could have benefited from a slightly shorter length but overall it’s wholesome and cheeky family fun, with a great cast and adventures aplenty. An overly cheesy ending slightly lessens its brilliance but overall there is a lot to love here.
3. Operation Christmas Drop
Inspired by a true story, this is a heart-warming tale of an Army base in Guam where the recruits are part of an organised effort to do an air drop every Christmas to those who live on the remotest islands in the region. The drops contain necessary schoolbooks and medicines, among other things, but the base is at risk of closure.
Enter Erica (Kat Graham of The Holiday Calendar), a woman sent to report on the base and decide whether it deserves to stay open – unless Captain Andrew (Alexander Ludwig) can convince her otherwise. Endearing leads, breathtaking scenery, decency and humanity and smile-inducing dialogue. This hug of a film is well worth a watch.
4. The Princess Switch: Switched Again
Vanessa Hudgens is back to delight us not just with her posh British accent but a third – yes, third! – character in this sequel to The Princess Switch.
This time, it’s Margaret who needs help. She’s about to be crowned Queen and is sad her former love, Kevin, isn’t there to share it with her. But can this European royal make things work with a baker from the US, especially when her selfie-obsessed cousin is desperate for money and out to sabotage the coronation? (Do you even need to ask?) This film ticks every box you can imagine. There’s an adorable decorating montage and a playful food fight within the first 15 minutes. The third character Hudgens takes on is deliciously devilish and there’s romance and slapstick galore – plus a cameo that will blow your NCU-loving mind. Get cosy, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Entirely predictable and just bursting with that oh-so-tiresome trope that single people must always be sad, Holidate is somehow still not without its charm. Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey play their parts very well. Their characters’ past pains feel real and their need to distance from others feels earned – right up until it doesn’t. Overall, the film is as delightful and lovely as it is frustrating and cringe. But if you want something harmless and nice, you can’t go too wrong with this.
6. A New York Christmas Wedding
A New York Christmas Wedding is a sort of modern day twist on the It’s a Wonderful Life plot, as a woman is offered the chance to see how her life would have turned out if she hadn’t had a huge falling out with her best friend and first love way back when…
Jennifer (Nia Fairweather) is about to get married to her dream man (with horrific in-laws to boot) but a chance encounter with a cyclist (who turns out to be an angel) leads her to see a life she might have had if she had felt able to tell her best friend she loved her when they were teenagers. The film has some gorgeous moments and explores important themes, especially that of letting yourself be loved and the church’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ congregants. Sadly, it also has several plot holes and unanswered questions and gets really quite dark at times which doesn’t quite match the otherwise lovely and sweet tone of the film. That said, it’s amazing to have a solid bisexual romance. Brava!
7. Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square
I wanted to love this. Truly, I did. I love me some Dolly. And Baranski. And Debbie Allen. But ooo boy this is dreadful. A few great moments of sincerity and endearing humour do not make up for the mess that engulfs them.
The plot is ridiculous (not in a good way!) and feels very like a first draft. The performances are questionable at best and it’s incredibly difficult to care about or engage with any one of the characters. (One young girl, who charms the moment she appears, is the exception to this rule.)
I lost count of the jaw drops, the eye rolls, the did-that-seriously-just-happen moments… they just kept coming. The most fun this film brings, apart from Dolly busting out a tune while sitting on a cloud (seriously) is the shocked chatter that inevitably goes with watching it. Much to my disappointment, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square just doesn’t hit the right notes. It’s a ride, that’s for sure – just not one people are likely to want to go on for very long.
Further updates as more Christmas films are released…
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