There are plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit. Some like to deck their entire home with festive decorations that go beyond putting up the tree. Other people like to jingle jangle their way to December 25th with Christmas music. Or if you really want to get into a holiday season state of mind, Christmas movies might be more your speed.
With a number of new Christmas movies coming out each year, it can be hard to decide which ones to spend an hour or two of your time on. Being a huge romantic at heart, I am a sucker for a sweet and fun romantic Christmas movie. Now that Netflix gives you plenty of options to satiate your desire for sappy Christmas movies, I rank a handful of films the streaming service has in their catalog.
1. The Princess Switch
Starring Vanessa Hudgens, this movie has the actress pulling double duty to play Stacy Denovo, a talented baker from Chicago who owns her own pastry shop, and Lady Margaret Delacourt, the Duchess of Montenaro who is engaged to Prince Edward of Belgravia. When Stacy flies to Belgravia to compete in a prestigious baking competition hosted by Belgravia’s royal family, her and Lady Margaret’s paths accidentally cross which then leads to both women agreeing to live the other’s vastly different life for two days. Comedy, wackiness, and romance occur in this surprisingly charming film.
I came into this movie not really expecting to like it as much as I did. I’m not exactly a huge Vanessa Hudgens fan, but there’s a lot to like about The Princess Switch. It’s sweet, heartwarming, and guaranteed to set hearts a flutter with the two men playing the love interests for Stacy and Lady Margaret. While the plot of the movie isn’t groundbreaking, it’s a good one to watch when you’re in the mood for Christmas magic set in a fictional European country. I count this movie as one of my favorites.
2. The Holiday Calendar
The Vampire Diaries actress Kat Graham plays Abby Sutton, a struggling photographer who receives an Advent calendar from her grandfather. Thinking it’s an ordinary calendar, she opens the first door on December 1st with a tiny item nestled inside. As she goes about her day, the item she receives from the calendar ends up materializing in her real life or playing a significant part in her day to bring about something lucky and auspicious. Abby is eventually convinced that the Advent calendar is magical, as each new day brings surprises when she opens a new door on the calendar.
Probably a common theme around a lot of Christmas movies is the inexplicable magic happening to a good person during the most wonderful time of the year. I mean, who doesn’t want to believe that something is possible? I enjoyed the slight suspense and mystery surrounding what the Advent calendar will bring Abby that day. What fell kind of flat for me is the romance between Abby and her best friend Josh (Quincy Brown). I’m not sure if it’s because the chemistry between the two actors is lacking or it’s because the relationship between the longtime friends hasn’t been developed enough to feel like they could be falling for each other. I found this movie an okay watch, but not worth seeing again.
3. A Christmas Prince
This movie, starring Rose McIver of iZombie, centers around American journalist Amber Moore who is sent to the fictional European country of Aldovia to report on a press conference held by Aldovia’s crown prince Richard (Ben Lamb), who will be taking the throne after his father’s recent death. When Richard fails to appear at the conference as scheduled, but wanting to confirm the rumors about the prince’s possible abdication of the throne, Amber snoops around the palace for some evidence, only to later be mistaken as the new American tutor for Richard’s younger sister Princess Emily. Amber decides to assume the identity of American tutor “Martha” to continue her investigation into the rumors of Richard’s abdication, but unexpectedly runs into a moral dilemma when she starts to fall for the prince.
While A Christmas Prince was released a year prior to The Princess Switch, and involves a similar plot around galavanting in fictional European countries and hobnobbing with royalty, between the two Netflix movies, The Princess Switch ranks much higher than A Christmas Prince. I unfortunately found A Christmas Prince cheesier out of the three movies I’ve listed here, and that’s a tall feat to achieve when you consider how all these movies can be classified as predictably cheesy in their own right. I don’t find Amber and Richard particularly interesting as characters and their romance is a big snore. I feel like I lost interest in the film halfway into it, but continued to watch it anyway. At times the dialogue is downright cringey, making this one of the worst Christmas movies I have ever sat through.
This is why it’s surprising that A Christmas Prince got a sequel last year and now has a third that just recently came out. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend watching this movie unless you’re bored or in need of a good laugh.
I hope you enjoyed my ranking of romantic Netflix Christmas movies! Many of the ones I watched are from a year or two ago, but there are plenty more new holiday movies that came out this month. Don’t be surprised if you see another review around this time next year, if I’m unable to get to all the new offerings this year.