Netflix is finally going after the sweet, sweet schmaltzy cinematic trash money that ABC Family has been hogging to themselves for years. To wit, I provide you the trailer, which essentially plays the entire movie out in 2 minutes:
A Christmas Prince is little more than the mechanical rendering of every sappy holiday-themed made-for-TV romance trope that ever was. In 4K.
It feels as though every line of dialog, every swell of music as our fish-out-of-water protagonist gets deeper in over her head in new, more breathtaking scenery, is all carbon copied from movies that have come before. I am thinking specifically of a movie called The Au Pair, which aired so long ago that I think ABC Family may still have been called Fox Family, and was my first exposure to this sort of cheese.
Our protagonist, a journalist who does good work but does not get the gigs she deserves, is handed a gig she deserves only because her boss, who is picking bits of scenery out of her teeth, cannot get anyone else to go. She sends our protagonist to Blawldorpopovia, a fictional country in Shmeurope, to invade the home and privacy of the Prince, a well-to-do cyborg whose face is stuck on the Stern and Contemplative setting.
The Prince, we are told, is a charismatic, jet-setting playboy. In reality, he is simply boring. And he has got until the end of a one-year period from the time of his father’s death to find a bride before he forfeits the right to become King, for some reason.
Our protagonist stumbles her way into the position of being a tutor for Sporblaplovia’s other young monarch, the Prince’s little sister, who is disabled so that we can have lines of dialog where our protagonist reassures her that she is normal, and where she reassures our protagonist that she appreciates being treated like a normal girl.
In the background, Jessie and James from Pokémon are scheming the ultimate downfall of the Prince’s lazy aspirations to become King. They are unimportant and only appear to be a threat for about two minutes near the end of the film.
Look. You know where this is all going. You know every scene, every story beat, every misunderstanding, every apology, every Liar Revealed trope, every wink-and-nudge in the obvious direction from one character to another. You know the last-minute deus ex machina that gives us our happy ending, and you know how the movie will try to deceive you into thinking the happy ending is not going to happen until the very end when the Prince’s wealth and good intentions manage to make everything right for every last character so that the audience might feel satisfied if they have never seen a movie before.
And I am not saying this movie has no value. It is a genre film in a genre defined by identical copy-paste features. That genre exists because people like this story. They want to see it over, and over, and over again. It is basically Cinderella, but for modern times, and I suppose that desire to be loved, and saved, and elevated from one’s shitty position in life, will always be there because people will always be sad, and struggle, and want to be appreciated and relieved of their burden. And it does not happen in real life. So what is the harm in another movie coming along every few years to give them something to dream about?
As a movie, this is just the worst, but within its genre, it is a little better than that. The music, if generic, is peppy and Christmasy. The little sister actress is sweet, and the wide-eyed protagonist is likeable despite her every predictable line of dialog. The Prince is…doing his best impression of a cool human being, but here and there you can see nuts and bolts holding him together. All of the side actors and actresses are horrible but in an over-the-top way, not an incompetent way.
So I am giving this a Holiday-Adjusted Rating of: ★★☆☆☆ and calling it Bad. You will survive it if a family member puts it on, even if only because it becomes a droning white noise in the background. At the very least, it is definitely an attractive film if you own a 4K television.
P.S. there are only like, two people of color, and they are extras. It’s 2017, Netflix, get your shit together.