Well, this is interesting. Did you know there was a Christmas Prince extended universe? Or that within that universe Netflix exists and has Christmas movies? Which are the same ones you can watch in this real universe? Wow.
I decided to kick off my Exploratory Christmas Endeavor this year by letting Facebook decide where I would begin. It seems like the number of Christmas movies released to digital streaming services each year is too many for anyone to ever consume, but I will do my very best for you folks.
I thought I recognized the lovely lead on the poster for The Princess Switch, another Netflix Christmas film, and then I had to stop when I saw that she was also on the poster for this, The Knight Before Christmas. I then looked closer at the credits listed on the menu for these titles that she was in fact the same woman, Vanessa Hudgens, who I hadn’t thought about for at least a decade.
In this, the schlockiest movie I’ve seen since A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, she plays an inspiring and good-hearted schoolteacher who is fresh off a break-up and just trying to keep her spirits up, when, because it is necessary for the plot to reflect the title and back-of-the-box summary, a sorceress from the 14th Century sends a clean and well-shaven knight to the year 2019. Hudgens’s character thinks the man has sustained a head injury, and decides to let him hang out with her and stay in her apartment because that’s just the way this kind of movie goes.
This is one of the laziest-written movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s honestly good for a laugh for that reason. The knight, played by an actor, is clearly not taking this any more seriously than I am, and that’s a relief. The script calls for him to be very choosy about what is and is not a curiosity.
For example, he is unphased by time travel. He also refers to cars as steel horses, but never stops to wonder about where he is, or why, or how he will get home. I think if I were a 14th century man coming upon flashing blue and red police lights I would think I’d seen the next Burning Bush and fall to my knees or maybe run away. I would certainly be in a state of abject panic until the stress killed me or a concerted, Captain America: The First Avenger-style effort was made to calm me back down. But this guy’s just like…
…and the movie is funnier for that reason.
And of course I mean “so bad it’s funny,” I don’t want to be mistaken as praising this movie on its own merits. It’s every bit as bad as it looks, and almost funnier for the campy, cringey pathos of witnessing the people in the movie who are actually trying.
It turns out, it was actually recorded by the guy who plays the knight!
I mean, holy shit.
This movie has no characters, you’ve heard all its jokes before, and I can only recommend it for a good laugh. It has nearly nothing to do with Christmas except for the backdrop of the thing, and that, to me, is one of the biggest crimes a Christmas film can commit. So it gets no extra leniency from me. It’s shallow and soulless, and ultimately inconsequential. It’s also very cynical in the way it lazily tries to shill Netflix’s other bad Christmas offerings.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆