With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching (seriously, where did this year go), we can now finally say that holiday season is here. Some of you may have been blasting Mariah Carey for a few weeks now, but for those of you who abide by some made-up guidelines about when you’re allowed to watch Christmas movies, I hereby give you permission to begin. Every year, there are dozens of new Lifetime, Hallmark, and Netflix holiday movies, so if that’s your thing, go off—but I understand that mindless Christmas cheer isn’t for everyone. So I decided to go through all the major streaming services and choose the best holiday movies that are available this year, whether you’re trying to find something for family movie night or just getting drunk in bed by yourself.
Now, before you yell at me in the comments, let me clarify that “best” is relative, and I don’t mean these are all the highest-quality movies available. They’re all great options in different ways, just like we all have our favorite side dish at Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re about to DM me about how The Princess Switch is an objectively bad movie, I suggest you take an edible and let the spirit of Christmas take hold.
‘Knives Out’ – Prime Video
Many of the films on this list are Christmas-centric, but Knives Out feels more like a Thanksgiving movie. Okay, it’s not technically a holiday movie, but with wintry vibes and a large family all together for the first time in a while, it feels appropriate. Set at a New England mansion that will make you wish your fireplace worked, Knives Out is a thrilling murder mystery, with enough twists and turns that even your most annoying cousin at Thanksgiving won’t be able to complain that he’s bored.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – Prime Video
You probably haven’t seen It’s A Wonderful Life unless your dad made you watch it every year growing up, but it’s actually pretty good. Thankfully, it’s streaming on Prime, so you won’t have to dig out the VHS tape this year—a Christmas miracle! In the movie, a guy who’s about to commit suicide on Christmas Eve is rescued by an angel who shows him how much of a difference he’s made in the world. Sounds bleak, but there’s a reason it’s been a Christmas classic for over 70 years.
‘Carol’ – Netflix
Does Carol meet the traditional definition of a holiday movie? Perhaps not, but it’s an excellent movie, and there are more than enough holiday moments for me to include it here. Cate Blanchett stars in this 1960s-set drama as a depressed housewife who has an affair with a younger woman who works at a department store, played by Rooney Mara. If you want to drink a whole bottle of wine and watch something holiday-adjacent but not like, jolly, this is a perfect choice.
‘Klaus’ – Netflix
A lot of Netflix’s holiday offerings are kind of cringe, but this animated Christmas movie from last year is adorable, creative, and was nominated for an Oscar. The voice cast includes favorites like Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones, and the main character is a postal worker, so we obviously stan. This is an ideal choice if you have younger kids around during the holidays, but also, you’re never too old for a good animated movie.
‘The Princess Switch’ – Netflix
Obviously, I didn’t want this list to be full of sh*tty direct-to-Netflix holiday movies, but I had to make one exception, and it’s The Princess Switch. This delightfully bad piece of cinema stars Vanessa Hudgens and Vanessa Hudgens as a regular woman and a princess who happen to look exactly alike. It’s ridiculous, and it’s perfect. And this week, Netflix is giving us a sequel! The Princess Switch: Switched Again stars Vanessa Hudgens, Vanessa Hudgens, AND Vanessa Hudgens, and as you can imagine, it looks absolutely bonkers. Sign me the f*ck up!!!
‘The Family Stone’ – HBO Max
There’s nothing like a holiday movie about a dysfunctional family to take your mind off your own dysfunctional family for a couple hours. Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Keaton lead an all-star cast in this dramedy about spending Christmas with the in-laws. If your top holiday concern is making sure you don’t run out of alcohol at your parents’ house, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
‘Home Alone’ – Disney+
I don’t think I need to explain what Home Alone is about, but I wanted to make everyone aware that all three movies in the series are available to stream on Disney+. Considering Macaulay Culkin turned 40 this year (still not over it), this is the perfect holiday season to revisit this classic and think about how f*cking old you are. Too real? Sorry. If you’re going to watch all three movies, just make sure to fast-forward through Donald Trump’s cameo in the second one; no one needs to see that.
‘The Santa Clause’ – Disney+
The Santa Clause happens to be my family’s yearly Christmas movie rewatch of choice, so I have seen this more times than I can count. Tim Allen stars in this family comedy about a not-very-jolly guy who, through some wild circumstances, inherits the position of Santa Claus. If you haven’t seen it, I totally recommend—it’s one of those family movies that actually has a lot of adult humor, so you won’t feel like you’re watching something for people half your age. Also, the kid is super cute.
‘Last Christmas’ – Hulu
This 2019 rom-com stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, so if for no other reason, you can watch it for the hotness factor. Emilia plays Kate, a 26-year-old hot mess who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop (bleak). She meets Tom (Henry Golding), who is (obviously, just look at him) a handsome charmer, and as the two fall in love, things start turning around for her. UNTIL the ~dramatic twist~ happens, which I won’t go into so I don’t spoil it. I’ll say that it’s very on-the-nose given the title, and you might hate it. That’s all I’ll say!
Images: Courtesy of Netflix; Giphy (4)
It’s officially after Thanksgiving, which means that, like it or not, Christian or not, we are now in full-on Christmas mode. So I decided I would lean into the holiday spirit this year and watch one of the hundreds of Christmas movies Netflix has pumped out this holiday season. There were so many to choose from, but I decided to go with The Princess Switch. Why? Because I wanted to see what Vanessa Hudgens has been up to, and I always find it funny when actors play their own twins in movies, as if we don’t have eyes. So without further ado, let’s get into my honest and not-at-all-salty The Princess Switch recap.
The movie opens in Chicago (I thought it was New York, tbh, but later found out the entire movie—including the Chicago scenes—was actually filmed in Romania), and we see Vanessa Hudgens working at a bakery, that she presumably owns. Isn’t she a little young? Meh, whatever. Vanssa has a hot sous chef, and I didn’t realize bakeries had sous chefs, so I’ve already learned two things less than one and a half minutes into this movie. An hour and 41 minutes well spent.
Hot Sous Chef has a daughter (zaddy), and Vanessa is her godmother. There’s apparently some big Christmas baking show in a place called Belgravia (is that like, the sister country to Genovia?) that Vanessa Hudgens has been wanting to enter in forever, but never did, presumably because she never thought she was good enough, or never had enough time. Just Christmas movie things! For once, I’d like to see the lead in a Christmas movie have high self-esteem and enjoy hoeing.
However, back to this baking contest. Now, this is not any cookie making contest. This is a ROYAL baking contest, with a formal invitation and everything. Enclosed with the invitation is a photo of a hot prince. You don’t need to have eyes to see where this is going.
Vanessa is like “We can’t close the bakery right before Christmas!” and Hot Sous Chef is like “B*tch you haven’t done sh*t since your last boyfriend dumped you, it’s time to live a little.” This will be a recurring theme throughout the movie.
Vanessa exits the store and gives what appears to be a Salvation Army man some money, at which point they have an entire conversation about how she wishes she had someone to spend Christmas with (thirstyyyy). He says “Christmas wishes have been known to come true.” And that’s how I know some fantastical sh*t is going down in this movie—I don’t even talk to my own therapist this intimately. This girl opened up about her innermost thoughts to a random dude collecting charity money? K.
Vanessa then runs right into her ex, some dude named Paul. Right as he says he’s been thinking about her (lie), some girl comes up, makes out with him on the street, and they do the whole “Who are you?” “I’m Stacey , I’m sure Paul has mentioned me” thing. The gf is like:
Way harsh, Paul.
Vanessa basically decides to go to Belgravia out of spite, just to one-up Paul and his new gf, who are meeting Paul’s parents over Christmas. Honestly, I can relate. Why do I get the feeling that in the entire fictional 3 years Vanessa and Paul dated, she never got to meet his parents? It’s possible I’m just projecting my past traumas here. But I could be right.
She arrives in what’s basically Santa’s Village with Hot Sous Chef and his daughter, and who do you know is there? Salvation Army guy! He explains there’s a royal wedding about to happen. And here I am, watching movies to escape royal wedding bullsh*t. I will never escape Meghan Markle, even in fictional kingdoms. This is my life now.
Salvation Army guy says to Vanessa, totally out of context, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” He’s now the second person to use this cliche so far in this movie. Oh boy, I sense a moral coming on.
Okay so at the place where the contest is being held, some redhead named Brianna Michael comes up to Vanessa, and we learn 3 things: 1) she’s a b*tch. 2) she’s Vanessa’s mortal enemy. 3) she probably slept her way through cooking school. Is slut-shaming really in the Christmas spirit? Brianna purposefully spills some sh*t on Vanessa, because she’s in third grade presumably, and when Vanessa goes to clean up, she literally bumps right into….
HER TWIN. Aka Lady Margaret Delacourt, one half of the couple getting married during the aforementioned royal wedding. For someone claiming to be from a fictional land called “Montenaro”, she’s speaking with a weird British accent. Vanessa Hudgens is no Lindsay Lohan, I’ll say that. But seriously, it’s like Vanessa Hudgens studied Lindsay Lohan’s British accent as her barometer for what constitutes a good British accent.
Lady Delacourt asks Stacey (I can’t keep using Vanessa because now there are two) for her help with her wedding cake. Sure, totally normal to ask of someone you’ve known for 10 seconds. Don’t you have royal bakers for this??
Stacey runs off, and Hot Sous Chef’s kid is all, “I wish you and Stacey were dating.” Hot Sous Chef is all, “nah, she’s just a friend.”
Okay so this wedding cake meeting is actually a ruse. Lady Delacourt doesn’t need help with her cake, but what she does want is to switch places with Stacey for two days. So this is really a Parent Trap/Lizzie McGuire situation. What could go wrong? Umm, the baking contest for one?? Ugh, these two are gonna “switch back at midnight” the night before the competition. Why do you have to go all Cinderella with this sh*t? Why can’t you just switch at like, 5pm, like work shifts?
British Vanessa: So you’ll do it?
American Vanessa: Well, why not? Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans!
F*cking kill me with this sh*t.
So now we’re treated to a makeover and royal lesson montage. Let me just say, British Vanessa is no Julie Andrews, and whoever gave her this sh*tty lob is no Paolo.
While all this is happening, there’s some random red headed lady creepily watching in the corner. Is she like, an aide? TBD.
The Prince or whoever shows up, so the real British Vanessa hides behind a couch. It goes about as well as you’d expect. Honestly this whole movie is a lot of “don’t look over there while I dramatically gesture and keep glancing in the exact place I don’t want you to look!”
Real British Vanessa sets off to sight-see with Hot Sous Chef and his daughter, while Fake British Vanessa goes off to attend meetings. Gotta say, this feels like the worst trade deal in history, possibly ever.
Okay so the redheaded aide has basically been looking after The Duchess since she was a child. She seems weirdly invested in this plan, though. Like, why are you so down with a random woman impersonating your boss for a few days? Am I alone in this?
Once alone, American Vanessa immediately goes to the Duchess’s closet to try on her fancy hats, as ya do. The Prince shows up and quotes The Little Prince, you know that book you read in middle school French class? And American Vanessa acts like he just wrote her a personalized poem. It’s a very famous book! That’s not impressive! Also, there are way better quotes from The Little Prince! I would know—I almost got one tattooed on me, before realizing my dad is disappointed me enough as it is already and I didn’t need to add another reason. Moving on.
Vanessa shows up to breakfast with the King and Queen in the same outfit as the day before. Aren’t there some royal rules about this? And…surprise!!! The Prince canceled his meeting with Spain to spend more time with his fiancée. This means they’re going horseback riding ($10 say American Vanessa has never ridden a horse). Meanwhile, King What’s His Name has noticed the Duchess has been acting weird and tells one of his butlers or someone, who just looks evil, to keep an eye on her. Dramaaaa!
The horseback riding, predictably, goes horribly. The Prince at one point wipes something away from Vanessa’s eye, and she practically jumps his bones right then and there. I mean, like, damn I haven’t had sex in 357 days, but even I wouldn’t orgasm at a guy wiping away an eyelash. Then Vanessa decides to go all Women’s March on the Prince when he suggests she plan their wedding instead of getting involved in international politics. Like, number one, isn’t the wedding in a week? What’s left to plan? Number two, should you really be like, f*cking up international relations when you’re supposed to be out of the picture a day from now? I’m all for women getting involved in politics, but this does not seem like the time or place.
British Vanessa, Hot Sous Chef, and the daughter go to paint ornaments or some sh*t, when Salvation Army dude walks up to be like, “Hey, Hot Sous Chef, you should date Vanessa.” Sounding like my dad on Thanksgiving. Mind your own business, old man!
Back at the palace, the Prince apologizes to Vanessa for being an ass. He’s like, “you’re gonna be my wife, if you have political opinions I want to know them.” And just like that, we brought about gender equality! Good work, everybody. Let’s pack it in.
No seriously, can we pack it in? I’m already regretting committing to this movie. It’s why I don’t usually watch movies—I have commitment issues.
Vanessa and the prince go to some charity ball, and this hoe is SMITTEN. Like, what? You don’t even know this dude! Don’t go all Meghan Markle on me and give up your whole life and career for a dude you don’t even know. That’s not what Christmas is about!
Immediately upon arriving at the charity ball, Vanessa grills the King and Queen about the details of the homeless shelter this charity is supposedly for. SMH, she has no manners. But also, the King and Queen being like “we don’t concern ourselves with the details of the charities we donate to” is very #richpeoplethings. In retaliation, the king and queen are like “Hey aren’t you an awesome piano player? Go play something for us!” LOL and that’s why you don’t shade the king and queen. The Prince bails her ass out and they do a duet, and everybody claps and nobody notices he just had to teach her how to play two chords. TWO.
The Prince goes looking for the Duchess, and who does he run into? Salvation Army man and his meddling ass, telling him they make a good couple. The Prince finds Vanessa in the gazebo, where they proceed to dance. Christ, it’s like they took the most cliche part of every existing holiday movie and just shoddily sewed it together.
I’ve just been alerted that Hot Sous Chef’s name is Kevin, and he is a hottie WITH. A. BODY. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to be stalking his Instagram and sliding into his DMs. His name is Nick Sagar and his handle is @nickdsagar. That is my charitable contribution for the year. You’re welcome.
I’m skipping a lot in the middle because it’s just dumb sh*t. American Vanessa (while pretending to be British Vanessa) gets way too excited to bake cookies for some orphans, and this is apparently a huge royal scandal. You’re not supposed to actually care about the peasants, you’re only supposed to pretend to care! Then she and Real British Vanessa almost run into each other at a toy store. They narrowly miss each other because British Vanessa pretends to drop an earring, and the redheaded aide fakes the worst fainting spell I’ve ever seen.
Legit worse than this:
Ugh, now the orphans are singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. Jesus Christ. Everyone is acting so shocked that the Duchess would dare give a sh*t about some poor orphans she doesn’t know, calling it “undignified”. Like damn, how savage is the royal family normally that you can’t bother to care about CHILDREN?
For the second time this movie, the Prince and Duchess are standing under mistletoe. I think the best part about this is how someone always has to point it out. They’re like “excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but you’re standing under the mistletoe.” Like this is some national f*cking emergency and not a made-up Christmas tradition.
Kevin’s daughter says to the real Duchess, “I wish you could stay.” Damn, that’s cold! Stacey’s known you your whole life, she’s your GODMOTHER, and you’re just gonna sell her out like that? Smh, these kids ain’t loyal.
While Fake American Vanessa and Kevin watch A Christmas Prince (lol nice job Netflix, I see what you did there), the Prince gives the other Vanessa his family crest. It’s supposed to be meaningful or whatever; to me it kind of reads like when Pete Davidson gave Ariana Grande his dad’s pendant. Meanwhile, Kevin gives his Vanessa a picture of him, his daughter, Vanessa, and Santa in a locket. Kevin puts the necklace on her and SHOOTS HIS SHOT. He confesses his love to Vanessa, and oh god, this is going to get messy when the real Vanessa comes back and isn’t into him at all.
So both Vanessas meet up to make the switch back, and they both gush about their respective dudes. Okay but really, how in love with someone can you be after three days?? I know this is a movie and all, but come tf on. I can’t with this. Y’all can just go back to your lives as normal and find other dudes to date because YOU DO NOT FALL PERMANENTLY IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE AFTER TWO DAYS!! This isn’t How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Actually, lol, it’s worse.
Also are we not gonna talk about how Vanessa and Kevin’s kid legit ripped off the handshake from The Parent Trap? Plagiarism!
Oh yeah while all this is going on, creepy butler dude took a few pictures of both Vanessas together and then tries to bring it to the king to like, blackmail them I guess.
So when the real Duchess gets back, she’s hemming and hawing about having to go back to her old royal life and she’s like “ugh I don’t wanna marry this guy but it’s my duty.” The redheaded aid gives her that sh*tty crest thing that legit has rhinestones all over it.
Aid: What does it say?
Duchess: Honor. Nobility. Loyalty. (Or whatever the f*ck.)
Aid: But notice how it doesn’t say duty? See what I did there??
OHhHHH snap, y’all are idiots. What’s your long-term plan? Having this b*tch fake an accent for the REST OF HER LIFE?
Meanwhile the baking competition started, and this sh*t ain’t no Great British Baking Show, I’ll just say that much.
So the queen finds out about our Parent Trap situation and sets Margaret tf up. She’s like “Hey Margaret, why don’t you go to the baking competition where your twin will definitely be?” The Queen is a messy b*tch who lives for drama, and I am HERE FOR IT.
At the baking competition, Brianna (the evil redhead, not the aide) has cut Stacey’s mixing line, meaning she has to do all the mixing by hand. And suddenly, we’re in an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen in this b*tch. Also like, wtf is up with the security in this so-called “royal” baking competition? Like nobody noticed that this girl’s station has been sabotaged? Can she not get another mixer? I’m sorry, I’m going to need Noel and Sandi to come out and explain the parameters of this contest before moving forward.
Also, you’re putting a raspberry filling in your holiday cake? RASPBERRY?? Paul and Prue would not be down with this. That’s not a holiday flavor. You’re not gonna give me like, gingerbread? Nutmeg? Allspice? What is this???
In any case, Brianna comes in second place, and our girl Stacey obviously wins, inappropriate filling or not. And here we go, the Prince and Duchess are going to present the award. Uh oh. Here we go. All of Belgravia is shooketh, and Kevin does the worst surprise face I’ve ever seen. But he’s pretty, so I’ll allow it.
Nobody else is concerned, and somehow it’s chill for them all to go backstage to be like “lol ya we switched places, isn’t it funny?”
Margaret is like “but, there’s more”.
Me: SHE’S PREGNANT!
Lol sadly no, Margaret is like “we should actually switch places permanently.” And wtf, how is Kevin gonna legit swap out the girl he’s been in love with for his whole life for her lookalike? He’s no Drake, Drake said if his girl had a twin he would still choose her. THESE HOES AIN’T LOYAL!!!!
This is legit such trash. All the dudes were like “lol k, sounds good.” FINALLY real American Vanessa has the common sense to be like “yeah I can’t just f*ck up three people’s lives because we had a good kiss the other night.”
Oh and here we have this b*tch being like “loving me isn’t according to plan”. Ok so who’s gonna be the one to say “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”? Do I say it??? What a missed opportunity. Stacey is like to the prince, “I’ve loved you more than I’ve loved anyone my whole life.” Wow, how does Paul, her ex of THREE YEARS, factor into this? Nobody is f*cking loyal in this movie.
L-O-FREAKIN-LLLL the prince gets down on one knee to…. Ask Stacey if she would marry him in a year if she still loves him. What kind of Jonas Brother promise ring B.S. is this? And everyone in the crowd is like “lol, amazing!” and breaks into applause. But like, what? Y’all haven’t even been briefed on the situation. Even snotty redhead is begrudgingly clapping. I guess it’s the power of true love??
Cut to, presumably the next year at Christmas, where Edward (that is the Prince’s name, took me all movie to get it right) and Stacey are married. Kevin and Margaret are still together. A random little girl (I think she was one of the orphans, how tf did she score a coveted wedding invite?) runs up to be like, “you’re a real princess now, aren’t you?” and Stacey is like “I guess Christmas wishes do come true.” I’ve got to ask, what is it about Christmas in particular that supposedly makes wishes come true? Does this work for other holidays? Can I be making Passover wishes? Just asking.
Stacey throws the bouquet, and I don’t even need to tell y’all who caught it. You don’t need to be psychic to figure it out. Goodbye. I’m f*ckin out of here. Kevin, call me.
After Kevin is like “hold onto that bouquet, you might need it on New Year’s” (hasn’t anyone told him not to basically propose at someone else’s wedding??) there’s a montage of everyone giving each other the thumbs up (why?), and American Vanessa Hudgens giggling crazily at her prince.
Andddd that’s it! Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Let me know if you want a recap of other Christmas movies, or other movies in general, and I’ll try to get over my commitment issues. Happy holidays!
Images: Netflix; Giphy (6)
Listen. I am a SLUT for Christmas. The lights. The music. The decor. The ever-present scent of evergreen. The built-in excuse to drink liquified chocolate without having to explain yourself. It all fills me with a pure, unadulterated joy that I can only describe as childlike. It’s also important to note that I am a lover of romantic comedies—the cheesier, the better. There’s nothing I love more than looking Cinema Dudes in the eye, and telling them that I sincerely think Clueless is a better movie than Fight Club. Give me your sappy, your cliche, your stringent skeptics yearning to love free, and I will binge watch each and every one of them, alone, a glass of wine in hand and a potential tear in my eye.
So you can only imagine the peppermint flavored excitement that coursed through my body when I opened up Netflix a full week before Thanksgiving, only to be greeted by a deluge of sappy, romantic, Christmas themed, made-for-TV movies. It’s like Hallmark and Lifetime got together, drank a bunch of peppermint schnapps, and then puked into my queue. I was in heaven.
I decided, in that moment, that it was my responsibility—nay, my destiny—to watch every single one. And we’re not just talking the Netflix original movies here, with actual production budgets, recognizable names and semi-digestible plotlines. We’re talking all the Netflix Christmas romances, even the ones that look like they were shot on an iPhone 4 and derived from screenplays that are one smut scene short of verifiable fan fiction.
Why did I do this? Why did I put myself through 826 minutes of wholesome yet ultimately mind-numbing Christmas cinema? It’s a simple answer, dear reader: ’tis the season of giving.
I ranked all the Netflix Christmas movies, so you didn’t have to.
*Minimal spoilers ahead but also it takes merely a simple synopsis and two brain cells to figure out how most of these would end*
8. ‘Christmas Wedding Planner’
The premise: If your idea of a Christmas classic includes Lily van der Woodsen playing a watered-down Lily van der Woodsen and Joey Fatone playing what I would imagine is just Joey Fatone, then this is the movie for you. Super quirky, yet inexplicably sad orphan Kelsey Wilson is trying to prove herself as a wedding planner by pulling off the perfect Christmas wedding for her cousin, who is not only beautiful but also kind and also outrageously forgiving (you’ll see).
The problem? A mysterious private investigator, who just happens to be the bride’s ex-boyfriend, arrives in town the day of the engagement party, dead set on uncovering some salacious skeleton in the groom’s closet that will ruin not only the wedding of her beloved cousin, but also Kelsey’s only shot at becoming a successful wedding planner. Why is her entire career riding on the wedding of a relative, something that she probably isn’t getting paid for and would likely be discounted in any legitimate portfolio? No one knows, and it doesn’t matter, because this is Christmas.
The dialogue in this movie is, for lack of a better word, bad. The romantic progression is non-existent, until the moment that it very much exists. The ending made me want to shove some especially fragrant Douglas Fir pine needles into my eye. I will absolutely be watching it again next year.
Christmas Rating: 7/10
What this movie lacks in any discernible screenwriting, it makes up for in decor. I think there might actually be a Christmas tree in every single shot. Kelsey is clad in vibrant red and forest green at any given moment. Watching it evoked the same vaguely festive warmth as drinking peppermint hot chocolate.
Chemistry Rating: 2/10
Kelsey and the P.I. inevitably team up to unearth whatever secrets lie in the groom’s past, and their half-assed investigative work has me wishing Veronica Mars would show up and beat the sh*t out of both of them. What’s worse, their stunted attempts at flirting would have you thinking that they were both being held at gunpoint just off-camera. It’s the kind of chemistry that you have with the only other person your age at a party hosted by your parents: forced and potentially incestuous.
7. ‘Christmas in the Smokies’
The premise: Disaster strikes the Haygood family when they find out their historic berry farm is in danger of being seized by the bank due to a line of credit that they were under the impression would never have to be repaid. Living in the country must be nice.
Hardworking, independent career gal Shelby Haygood is hell-bent on saving her family’s farm, despite the fact that both of her parents spend the first half of the movie being entirely unconcerned about the very real possibility that their home will be repossessed by the bank in mere days. This would probably have made for a stressful enough holiday season, but fate has decided to throw another twist Shelby’s way in the form of Mason Wyatt, her high school sweetheart-turned-bad-boy-country-star who has just returned to town.
Mason walked out on Shelby when they were 17 years old, an event which has had a formative impact on her entire adult life. This woman is clearly in her thirties and yet still harboring a grudge bordering on obsessive towards her teenage boyfriend who (and I’m only guessing here because this movie wouldn’t dare provide a semblance of context) left her on Christmas Eve to…pursue his music career?
This movie’s saving grace is Mr. Haygood, played by Whitey from One Tree Hill. He is, in fact, the exact same character, except now with a handlebar mustache. Much like Whitey, Mr. Haygood’s wisdom knows no bounds and he has zero time, patience, or regard for the temper tantrums thrown by his students daughter.
Christmas Rating: 5/10
The first 15 minutes of this movie had me positively charmed. The classical, nostalgic Christmas music that I haven’t heard since the last time my parents forced me to go to church on Christmas Eve was a welcome reprieve from the contemporary covers that we’ve come to expect from these kind of productions.
But that initial charm was immediately overridden by the overt religious undertones that kicked in after about 20 minutes. Yes, I know. Christmas is a religious holiday. Sure. But also, no it’s not. There is Christmas the religious holiday and there is Christmas the cultural event and we all know that we came to this very specific Netflix category for the latter. Let’s not try to make this something it’s not.
Chemistry Rating: -4/10
Mason Wyatt had more natural chemistry with Whitey than his actual love interest. In fact, Whitey was the most likable character in this entire movie. I would watch another hour and a half of him and his friends eating breakfast and making vague sexual innuendos via grits and bacon.
Not only could you not convince me that these two people were ever in love, but I barely believe that one wouldn’t sell the other into indentured servitude for 50 cents and the knowledge that they would suffer for the rest of their lives.
Like, I get it. It’s a little hard to focus on a romantic sub-plot when there are serious things like bankruptcy and foreclosure on the line. But guess what? I didn’t pick Christmas in the Smokies for the far-too-realistic storyline of financial hardship during the holiday season. I chose it because I wanted to watch some vaguely country themed Christmas love play out between two people who are even the slightest bit attracted to each other, and I didn’t even get that.
Because you know what’s required in any kind of romantic movie? The one thing that’s pretty much make or break for the success of your film? A KISS. THESE TWO IDIOTS DIDN’T EVEN KISS. I haven’t been deprived this level of closure since every relationship I’ve ever been in.
6. ‘The Spirit of Christmas’
The premise: Our protagonist Kate is your typical Lifetime movie lead: a strong, yet perpetually frazzled, working woman who takes her job, and by extension herself, far too seriously. Kate doesn’t have time for love! There are frantic phone calls to answer! And very important deals to close! And overbearing father figures masquerading as bosses whose approval she has to win! If only there were a man who could teach her that there’s more to life than being rich, successful, and shattering the glass ceiling.
Kate is offered a last minute job before Christmas (not that she celebrates anyways, she’s too busy proving her worth at the office!!), one that will catapult her career to the next level and finally win her the begrudging respect of the men at work. She’s been tasked with heading out to a quaint, historical bed and breakfast in a nondescript New England town and ensuring that it’s appraised and sold before Christmas. Easy right? From here, you probably know where the story is going.
Kate heads to picture-perfect bed and breakfast. Kate meets man. Man shows Kate the ways of the world, complete with Christmas decorating montage. Kate falls in love and forgets that she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on law school, only to throw it all away for the owner of a bed and breakfast.
Oh yeah, and he’s a ghost.
Woman who had sex with 20 ghosts is now engaged to a spirit https://t.co/TSpVqbh30c pic.twitter.com/ruiVs9lEmE
— New York Post (@nypost) October 30, 2018
Christmas Rating: 7/10
This movie not only has modern Christmas, but also colonial-era Christmas. There are not one, but TWO Christmas balls. There is snow everywhere. Kate and the ghost decorate a tree together because a very specific curse allows him to become human for one week a year and therefore do things like pick up Christmas ornaments. We have sufficiently checked the Christmas box here.
Chemistry Rating: 4/10
Kate and the ghost spend the first good half of the movie hating each other—Kate because the ghost stands in the way of her appraisal and therefore advancement in her career, the ghost because Kate is intruding on his one week a year to be corporeal, eat pancakes, and sulk about being dead.
Usually, I’m a sucker for the hate-turned-friendship-turned-love trope, but in this case we went straight from all-out hate to inexplicable love, without any real indication as to why. I get that that’s par for the course with these things, but this case was especially jarring. I don’t know, maybe because the love interest was dead and pining for his dead fiancé up until about 10 seconds before they were suddenly in love.
However, once the ghost decided he no longer hated Kate, he truly committed to being unnecessarily in love with a human that he had spent all of four days with and that, I can respect.
5. ‘Holiday Engagement’
The premise: Part-time writer Hillary finally has it all: a minimum-wage paying gig at her local small town paper, which exists despite the fact that she appears to live in LA or New York or some other Metropolitan city, and a fiancé named Jason who was gushingly described as “fiscally responsible” by Hillary’s best friend. You may have thought that list was going to go on, but no, those two sad things are all she has.
But it’s enough for Hillary, because now she finally has a man to bring home for Thanksgiving to appease her overbearing mother, who might actually just be the mom from Pride and Prejudice who somehow managed to find a time machine that allows her to harass a whole new family of daughters into loveless, wealth-accumulating marriages.
However, tragedy strikes when Hillary implies that she doesn’t want to uproot her entire life and burgeoning part-time journalism career for Jason’s promotion, and he dumps her mere days before they’re set to spend the weekend at her parents’.
Naturally, the only thing Hillary can do now is to hire a struggling actor to play the part of Jason and convince her entire family that their wedding, set to take place at the end of December, is still happening. This may sound like an inane plan to you, but having had to watch an hour and a half of this woman interact with her children, I would say it was the best possible course of action.
Christmas Rating: 6/10
Being set during Thanksgiving weekend, I was initially concerned about the amount of Christmas they could actually pack into this movie. Clearly someone else felt the same way, and managed to shoe-horn an entire scene in which the mother singlehandedly decorates the whole house at midnight after Thanksgiving dinner. Her ungrateful children never recognize this selfless task, and it was at this point that I found myself aligning with the suffocating and needlessly dramatic mother. Couldn’t possibly tell you why that is.
Chemistry Rating: 2/10
Everything about this couple made me uncomfortable. Their kissing, their body language, their half-assed attempts at pretending they’ve known each longer than two days. Honestly, if you’re going to commit to such an over-the-top plan, you would think you’d actually, I don’t know, rehearse? Do some research? Act as if you liked each other? I haven’t seen such a disheartened attempt at acting since I was forced to take improv classes in middle school. I found myself screaming “YES, AND” at the TV every time they tried to pull together a cohesive story from their supposed shared past.
4. ‘Merry Kissmas’
The premise: The story opens on Kate, a woman whose only discernible character trait is that she’s stuck in a loveless engagement with an egocentric choreographer named Carlton, who possesses zero redeeming qualities and one Lindsay Lohan-esque, nationality agnostic accent. If nothing else, we must give the screenwriters credit for their unique take on a Christmas romance.
Carlton is choreographing and producing his own twist on The Nutcracker, which is to take place in San Francisco. The unhappy couple decides to kill two birds with one stone and hold their engagement party the same week, in Kate’s native Palo Alto.
It is clear to Kate—and to everyone but Carlton, really—that this relationship is doomed to fail. While contemplating whether or not she actually wants to get married, Kate finds herself in a sticky situation that can only be solved by diving into an elevator and kissing the attractive guy inside. We’ve all been there.
This kiss ignites a passion in Kate that she hasn’t felt in years, driving a further wedge between Carlton and herself. As she grows closer to the kind, caring, not emotionally abusive elevator man who also happens to be the caterer for her engagement party, Kate must decide whether or not to marry the small dancing troll who treats her like an unwanted stepchild. What’s a girl to do??
Christmas Rating: 2/10
The writers seem to have been under the very mistaken impression that an abundance of nutcrackers and cookies can make up for the total lack of any actual cozy Christmas atmosphere. I mean, you’re really setting yourself up for failure when your Christmas love story takes place in sunny Palo Alto, California. No snow to inspire a spontaneous snowball fight? No roaring fire place to curl up in front of? No scarves to playfully tug on? How dare you come at me with this absolute pretense.
Chemistry Rating: 5/10
Other than presenting me with the first truly believable kiss of this entire movie marathon, I couldn’t quite figure out why I was so invested in Kayla and the Catering Man. They were a pair of two-dimensional saltine crackers who made for a generically attractive couple, but nothing worth getting worked up over. But then, the words of the ingenious and immortal Natalie Walker rang through my head, and it hit me.
“The screenwriters are assuming if they give the audience enough reason to root against and , they’ll forget they’ve been given no compelling reason to root for and .”
This sad, blonde whisper of a woman may have been devoid of any real personality other than a weird obsession with collectible nutcrackers, but that doesn’t mean she deserved to be sentenced to a lifetime of misery at the hand of the tap-dancing goat she was currently shackled to. Hell, I’ll root for her with anyone, as long as it means she’s free of Carlton’s (undoubtedly tiny) grasp.
3. ‘Christmas With a View’
The premise:n Disgraced restaurant owner Clara is back in her hometown, managing a local high-end ski resort and trying to get back on her feet after a vague but apparently life-altering failure in the Chicago culinary scene. Like any good romance heroine, she’s too focused on her career to have time for men…until New York’s most eligible bachelor/chef snags the Head Chef position in the resort’s restaurant. That’s right. Bachelor AND Chef. What a multi-faceted creature.
Will they fall in love? Yes. Will there be hurdles? Yes. Will there be an extensive winter-activity-falling-in-love-montage? You better believe it.
Christmas Rating: 7/10
Not only was this movie chock-full of Christmas cheer, but it had layers to the festivity. Different locations offered up different vibes, juxtaposing the cozy, homey decor of Clara’s childhood hotel against the glamorous yet sterile aesthetic of her current job. Of course, this was a thinly veiled metaphor for family run businesses, the unsung heroes in these small ski towns, diametrically opposed to corporate holiday resort conglomerates. You know, a classic Christmas movie message.
Chemistry Rating: 6/10
Clara and the hot chef receive the highest rating thus far for the simple reason that I actually believed these two people wanted to have sex with each other. That’s it. It’s that easy. Just look into each other’s eyes and try to offer up a modicum of affection. I’m not asking for that much.
2. ‘The Princess Switch’
The premise: Stacy is an uptight pastry chef from Chicago who’s been unlucky in love despite having the hottest best friend/sous chef of all time. It sounds like she acquired her accent by watching one season of Shameless and that one Chicago Bears SNL skit from the 90’s.
Margaret is the equally uptight but apparently inwardly rebellious Duchess of Montenaro, who also happens to be begrudgingly engaged to the Prince of Belgravia. It sounds like she acquired her accent by watching one season of The Crown and the trailer for the new Mary Poppins movie.
The two are distant cousins who meet by chance at an international baking competition in Belgravia. They are, of course identical twins, played by Vanessa Hudgens.
Margaret hatches a diabolical and never-before-seen plan to (gasp) switch places so that she may experience a normal life before being swept up in the high profile lifestyle of the royal family of this miniscule fictional eastern European country.
While Stacy has never even considered the possibility that her best friend Kevin is an absolute snack, and Margaret has never thought to try and pursue a romantic relationship with her attractive royal fiancé, the same can’t be said once the two take up each other’s lives.
Christmas Rating: 10/10
This movie is Christmas porn. Lest you drop me smack dab in the middle of a Christmas market in Vienna, I could not be happier. Margaret’s holiday color palette of exclusively blush and cardinal is not only iconic but also revolutionary. Take note ladies, this year we throw caution to the wind and mix our pinks and reds.
Chemistry Rating: 8/10
Once I was able to work past Vanessa Hudgens playing a British Vanessa Hudgens trying to sound like a Chicago Vanessa Hudgens, I settled right into everything The Princess Switch was selling. These beautiful people are throwing longing, romantic glances left and right in this absolutely perfect Christmas village and my feeble little heart can’t take it.
Am I projecting because I would be happy with either of the love interests (but mostly Kevin)? Maybe. Are my standards outrageously low, having been so recently burned by Christmas in the Smokies? Perhaps. Do I just have soft spot for Vanessa Hudgens, having come of age in the High School Musical era? Yeah. Sue me.
1. ‘The Holiday Calendar’
The premise: Abby Sutton is a struggling photographer, stuck in a sh*tty hometown holiday job and living vicariously through her crazy-hot best friend Josh, who actually managed to turn his traveling photography blog into a successful venture. In a movie literally centered around a magic advent calendar, that is the single least believable plot point.
Two important things happen this holiday season: Josh comes home for good, bringing his overtly obvious unrequited love for Abby with him, and Abby receives a magical antique advent calendar from her grandfather. With each passing day, the toy behind every door of the calendar dictates the course of Abby’s life. She is lead to love, loss, and an excessive amount of elementary school events.
Christmas Rating: 9/10
This movie reeks of Christmas. Abby works as the photographer at a Santa pop-up in town square. Everything is covered in snow, garland, and joy. The entire story relies on an advent calendar, the most Christmas themed subplot imaginable. I went to sleep filling fulfilled and wishing that any one of my childhood friends even slightly resembled Quincy Brown.
Chemistry Rating: 10/10
These two are head over heels in love with each other from the second they appear on screen and I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT.
Pull out your romantic trope checklist folks, because we’ve got it all:
- Longing looks while the other glances away
- Quincy Brown serving us The Look™️ in general! Here is an entire Twitter thread dedicated to The Look in case you don’t know what that means.
The number one thing a man in a romcom needs, TV or movie, is the ability to look at their love interest REALLY WELL. The man barely even needs to speak if he just knows how LOOK at a person.
— alanna kelsey claire bennett (@AlannaBennett) March 28, 2018
- Family members practically begging them to get together
- Falling asleep on the couch and ending up cuddling when they wake up
- Ultimate despair at having to watch the love of your life date other people
- Jealousy! So much jealousy!
- A grand romantic gesture followed by an admission of love! ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
I’m going to make my own advent calendar, and each door is going to reveal a Post-it note that says “Watch The Holiday Calendar again, you lonely idiot.” It is the Christmas Netflix movie we all wanted, but never one I thought we would deserve.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, where I review the rest of the Netflix Christmas movies this streaming service throws at me in addition to the ones that haven’t even premiered yet.
Yeah, I’m talking about the sequel to The Christmas Prince.
Images: Giphy (5), @AlannaBennet, @nypost / Twitter; Netflix
Well, we basically made it to November. It’s a lovely month for curling up with your cuffed bae and never leaving your couch. Or, if you’re like me, curling up with yourself and hiding out from your family during Thanksgiving dinner. So what better to do with your time cuddled up from the family cold than watch everything on the internet. Here are the best TV shows and movies coming to Netflix this November.
Nov 1: ‘Sex and the City: The Movie’
Carrie Bradshaw is one of the most iconic figures in the history of delusional dating, so this movie is an absolute must-watch (if you haven’t already memorized the entire script). Our gal Carrie is getting married to Mr. Big, but he’s a f*ckboy and goes AWOL on their wedding day *pretends to be shocked*. In an attempt to get Carrie out of her depression, the girls all take Carrie’s would-have-been honeymoon to Mexico. Charlotte sh*ts her pants, Miranda has make-up sex, and Samantha is drunk so this movie is basically art.
Nov 1: ‘Good Will Hunting’
Matt Damon is vulnerable, smart, and sexy (that’s more than I can say about any men in my life) in Good Will Hunting. Originally released in 1997, Damon’s character, Will Hunting, is a bad boy-turned-math-prodigy in need of big-time therapy in order to keep him out of jail. After bulldozing through a bunch of bad therapists, he meets Dr. Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams (tears). The two obvs bond and hit it off. I won’t spoil anything, but this movie changed my best friend’s life, so if that’s not a recommendation worth taking, IDK what is. Bring a box of tissues and get ready to ugly cry.
Nov 1: ‘Sixteen Candles’
There’s no coming-of-age story better than this. If this wasn’t the movie that turned you into a woman, you’re probably too young to be reading this site. Anyway, the plot goes as follows. It’s Sam Baker’s 16th birthday and legit everyone forgot. Her sister is getting married the next day, so like, that’s important, but c’mon she’s 16! Things are no better at school, and a sex quiz gets mixed up into the hands of Sam’s crush à la To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The movie ends with the most iconic scene in cinematic history—Sam’s first kiss over her 16th birthday cake. But who is it with? Watch and find out.
Nov 1: ‘Bring It On: In It To Win It’
The third installment in the Bring It On collection is one of the many nostalgic movies coming to Netflix this November. Still not as good as the first, this movie follows Brooke and Carson, rival cheer captains, as they battle it out at Cheer Camp. Also, the Spirit Stick is BACK, BETCHES. Carson’s a dumbass and gets lured by a hot male cheerleader, Penn, to ride a rollercoaster and make out, inevitably leaving the Spirit Stick unattended. It gets stolen and the two squads blame each other and get into a Westside Story style cheer fight. They get busted by the cops and have to combine squads, naming themselves The East-West Side Shets, which is the biggest crime of this whole movie.
Nov 16: ‘The Princess Switch’
Think Monte Carlo meets Princess Protection Program meets High School Musical—but like, if all of those were somehow a Christmas movie too. Vanessa Hudgens stars as her own twin, in a very Lindsay Lohan move. One Vanessa is a princess who’s sick of her crown, and the other is a baker from Chicago. The two are pissed with their current lives so with the help of ~Santa~ they switch places. This movie basically sounds like a holiday-themed version of all of Netflix’s rom-coms (sans Noah Centineo). So that obviously means I’m going to watch it the second it comes out.
Nov 2: ‘House of Cards’ Season 6
This should be interesting. House of Cards is back for its sixth and final season. The series almost collapsed because Kevin Spacey is basically the worst human ever, but luckily, Robin Wright is here to save the day (and the show) by taking on her role as the first female President of The United States. She’s low-key super into murder, though (relatable), and is absolutely ruthless, so it should be interesting to see how she decides to dispose of her husband, because you know she will. Also, can someone tell me WTF Doug is going to do?
Nov 4: ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’
Hasan Minhaj is the first ever Indian-American host of a weekly comedy show, and he’s awesome. His politically slanted show covers both evergreen and topical news, ranging from historical events in American politics to current issues, like Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Minhaj also makes sure to bring stories that you won’t usually get to hear to light, such as the ongoing crisis in Yemen or the current ruling Saudi family. His dark humor and quick wit are sure to keep you entertained and informed (and it doesn’t hurt that he looks like a Ken doll). The show airs every Sunday, so it’s the perfect cure for your Sunday scaries.
Nov 9: ‘Super Drags’
This is the show you’ve all been waiting for: drag superheroes. Three gay co-workers are department store employees by day, and crime-fighting Queens by night. Of course, the cast is stacked with the voices of ah-mazing Queens Trixie Mattel, Ginger Minj, Shangela, and William Belli. This show, originally from Brazil, is supposed to have a comic-book feel to it with a raunchy edge. It may be animated, but it’s certainly not for your Saturday morning cartoon (is that still a thing or do kids just, like, Snapchat now?). How could you not want to watch a show where they say stuff like “twerk away the shade”?
Nov 9: ‘Westside’
Just when you thought reality TV couldn’t get any better, here comes your next obsession. Westside follows the lives of nine musicians trying to make it in Hollywood. What’s unique about the show is that it’s not poorly lit and filmed with an iPhone. Netflix legit put effort into making this show both entertaining and aesthetically pleasing to watch. But don’t worry, you’ll still get your offside commentary and classic sh*t talking. It also features fully produced music videos (done by the cast) and original songs. I’m feeling like this is going to be a beautiful cross between Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Glee. Stay tuned.
Nov 16: ‘Narcos: Mexico’
Obviously, you’re addicted to true crime (and have probably binged our entire new podcast series) so Narcos’s latest installment will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about drugs *takes bong hit*. This companion series takes you inside the history of the illegal drug trade in Mexico (so it’s like, educational). It follows the Guadalajara Cartel during the 1980s and its leaders. Thrown into the mix is Kiki Camarena, a DEA agent who makes his family move from California to Guadalajara. And you were mad about your dad moving the family from New York to Ohio. Kiki gets way too caught up in the Cartel’s sh*t, so bad things happen (shocker). It’s based on a true story, so don’t Google and spoil it.
Images: Marvin Meyer/Unsplash; Giphy (5)