Christmas rom-coms are a bizarre and specialized movie genre. For years, Hallmark has dominated the market, but recently Netflix originals have established their own collection of these movies. They tend to be divided into two main categories, “fantasy” and “country,” and have certain trends such as unnecessary children, women incapable of walking anywhere without tripping into the arms of a man, and High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens. Let’s see how they compare.
A Christmas Prince (2017)
A Christmas Prince is a magnificent tale of romance and mystery featuring Amber, an awkward American journalist who only wears Converse sneakers (even at formal balls) who falls in love with Richard, a reluctant prince with a tragic and secretive past. Amber poses as a royal nanny to Princess Emily, a little girl in a wheelchair who never talks the way a real child talks and who only exists to further the plot and be a matchmaker for Amber and Richard. But there’s a twist: the two most generic villains in movie history are bent on stealing the crown!
The movie takes place in the lovely kingdom of Aldovia, a vaguely European country where everyone has British accents to show that they’re “foreign yet classy.” Most plot development occurs through eavesdropping, sneaking around, and wacky hi jinx such as “following the prince into a dark forest you’ve never seen before” and “taking a disabled child sledding down a very steep hill.” Truly a Christmas classic. 4/10.
The Princess Switch (2018)
The Princess Switch was all over the place in terms of plot. The movie really feels like it was written for kids, with romance shoehorned in as an afterthought. It’s like a cross between The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries when Stacy, a baker from Chicago, discovers she looks identical to Margaret, the Duchess of Montenaro. They switch lives for two days, and nobody seems to care at all. The conflict is trivial at best, but everything sorts itself out with no real problems or effort from the main characters.
The acting is quite stiff from everyone, and all the characters seem one-dimensional, with surface-level motives and actions. Some side characters were mildly entertaining but didn’t get enough screen time to develop a real personality. All in all, the movie wasn’t horrible but also didn’t seem to know what kind of movie it wanted to be, which made it a bit messy to watch. 5/10.
A Very Country Christmas (2017)
Despite the promising name, A Very Country Christmas was only mildly country at best. You would expect there to be country music, but all you get is average acoustic covers of Christmas songs. Our main character, Jeannette, is a hardworking single mom who crosses paths with Zane, a famous country music singer who’s desperate to escape his life of fame.
There isn’t much to say about the plot. Zane runs into some trouble with the paparazzi and news reporters, but by the end of the movie, everyone has simply decided not to bother him anymore. Everything works itself out somehow with no explanation. Personally, I was more invested in the lives of the side characters, Jeannette’s friends at the coffee shop. They have no personalities and don’t seem to be great people, but somehow that’s more than you can say for the main characters. 5/10.
The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
This movie was an odd one, to say the least. Sir Cole is a 14th-century English knight who ends up in the year 2019 through time travel confusion. Gradually, he falls in love with Brooke, a sweet teacher who’s given up on love. There were some things the movie did well. It was well shot, with no awkwardly long pauses or intense close-ups of faces. The acting was hit-or-miss with the side characters, but the two leads were more natural and weren’t as hard to watch.
The magical special effects looked very out of place. You would see a knight in a dark, moody forest, then suddenly he’s absorbed into what looks like a neon blue bubble. Besides the effects, the jokes were pretty overdone. “Time traveler ends up in the current year” is not an uncommon premise, and most of the jokes boil down to “the knight doesn’t know how to use Alexa.” Overall, though, The Knight Before Christmas wasn’t a complete waste of time, and you may like it if you never get tired of time travel movies. 6/10.
Christmas in the Smokies (2015)
Christmas in the Smokies was undoubtedly the worst movie on this list, and possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I would try to list the pros and cons, but the movie was so devoid of content or emotion that it would be pointless. Shelby lives on a berry farm, and she’s mad that she has to pay to keep the property she owns. She’s also absolutely traumatized because her boyfriend, Mason, didn’t come home for Christmas when she was 17. When he comes back years later, she hates him for the entire movie until they inexplicably fall back in love at the end. No emotion, no romance, no humor, just a boring plot that feels forced for an hour and a half. 0/10.