This Friday in the UK sees the release of Last Christmas, the latest romcom themed around the annual holiday, which presumably will lean heavily on snow, baubles, lights, eating and love. And of course, at this time every year, all the online streaming services provide unceasing Yuletide content, whether higher-end bigger-budget fare from Netflix (often starring Vanessa Hudgens, who will I gather be in The Knight Before Christmas for Netflix this season) or the Hallmark-style TV pabulum that often is made with the same stars, writers and directors every year, and probably throughout the year in dedicated studios in LA, Canada and Eastern Europe, I’m guessing. I already did a post about made-for-TV Christmas movies a few years ago, so I guess it’s time to update with a few more recent titles. Perhaps there’s a great film in this genre out there (or at least one I can rate as highly as being merely “good”), but I still seem to be searching.
The Princess Switch (2018) [certificate PG]
To perhaps nobody’s enormous surprise, this is not a very good film: it is utterly crammed with cliché, though at this point there are very few plots left for Christmas movies to work through, and it feels like each of them is a carbon copy of five others (even just looking at this director’s filmography). Sam Palladio as the male love interest is utterly bland (though I found him likeable in TV’s Nashville), and the situations beggar belief at times — though ‘being ridiculous’ is sort of what this film (if not the entire Christmas romcom sub-genre) is going for. I mean, it’s pleasing in a way, it does what it sets out to do, and the genre isn’t exactly hitting any high bars yet. Also, it has Vanessa Hudgens, who remains utterly lovely and watchable in everything, so it’s not completely worthless.
Director Mike Rohl; Writers Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger; Cinematographers Viorel Sergovici and Lulu de Hillerin; Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar; Length 102 minutes.
Seen at home (Netflix streaming), London, Monday 19 November 2018.
Mingle All the Way (2018)
Meanwhile over at the Hallmark Christmas channel we have this film (amongst many other films), where the set-up is that a lady who is not called Holly, Carol or anything else even vaguely Christmassy (but rather Molly) has a dating… wait no sorry, “networking” app (providing the film’s title). Her staff encourage her to get on the app for business reasons, so they hook her up with this guy with whom she has had run-ins at the local coffee shop, and anyway some stuff happens, but they fall in love and sorry if this is spoilers, but you get the gist. Jen Lilley has really big eyes, and also she has some lovely coats and some really good dresses, and the guy is just very… well, the actor’s name is Brant, so that’s probably all you need to know. It’s not exactly good, but it’s likeable enough.
Director Allan Harmon; Writer Samantha Herman; Cinematographer Chris Kempinski; Starring Jen Lilley, Brant Daugherty; Length 90 minutes.
Seen at a friend’s home (TV), London, Tuesday 25 December 2018.