Christmas Movies on Netflix

It's the weekend after Thanksgiving, when Christmas finally throws off even the barest hint of restraint and goes whole hog! And this year I celebrated by resolutely ignoring my dinner dishes and mainling nine low budget Christmas movies off Netflix. I was going to make it a nice, even ten, but...I can't count and only realized it was nine when I wrote this post. Meh. So here's my very brief thoughts on all of them:

  • A Christmas Kiss - A young interior designer with a calculating and demanding boss has a chance encounter with a handsome man in an elevator. Later she discovers that the man is her boss's boyfriend, and he doesn't recognize her! Through shenanigans, they end up working together as she interior decorates his home for a holiday party, and the longer she puts off telling him that she's the mystery kisser, the more awkward the idea of coming clean.
    It's a pretty standard, cute holiday flick with all of the staples. The cruel boss that tries to steal the heroine's work, the contrived situations to engineer romantic moments, etc. I did really like the two leads together and the way they showed her understanding of the love interest via decorating choices. Overall, pretty standard, except for one thing - THAT FIRST KISS. It's so random and out of the blue! They're in the elevator, it starts to fall, and they just...start passionately making out. Because...that's what you do when you're about to die? I guess?
  • A Christmas Kiss 2 - Has very little to do with the first movie by this name, except for having the same set up and one recurring character. An assistant with aspirations to be a fashion designer runs into a man in an elevator, and they share a passionate kiss. Later she finds that man was her boss's jet-setting, womanizing brother. He decides to start working at the fashion company in order to be closer to this woman who clearly hates him and wear her down into going out with him.
    Unlike the first movie, I LOATHED THIS PIECE OF SHIT. The 'hero' is aggressively vile, and everything he does is a parade of emotionally abusive red flags. The heroine goes to great lengths to try and dissuade this man from pursuing her, even enlisting her neighbor to pretend to be her boyfriend, and yet he forces his way into her life anyway. He uses his power over her to upend her life, forces his way into vulnerable, emotional moments, and then uses inappropriately grand gestures when she's already unsteady to cement the deal. Plus, the original kiss wasn't mutual, he literally trapped her in an elevator and forced it on her. I HATED THIS MASHED POTATO FACE ASSHOLE SO MUCH.
    On the other hand, I *loved* all the side characters! The fake-boyfriend neighbor was so sweet, I want one. The boss was hard-working but appreciative, and her antagonist actions came from a...not sympathetic, but understandable place, so it wasn't a "villain because we need a villain" thing. The heroine herself was super awesome. I just...I really loved everyone EXCEPT the guy getting the most screen time. He ruined everything, it was honestly quite rude.
  • A Christmas Prince - A wanna-be reporter gets her big break when she's sent to Aldovia to cover the new prince's coronation. The prince is more than a little flakey, and there's speculation he won't take the throne or will miss this random mandatory deadline that exists for some reason. Through shenanigans, she winds up posing as the 12 (ish?) year-old princess's tutor in order to get the scoop on the royal family.
    Another delightfully standard lifetime-style romance, with all the stock characters present. The scheming cousin who wants the throne instead, the scheming ex girlfriend who just wants to marry the throne, the stiff queen, everyone is present. There's unbelievably contrived scenarios (of course) and they are a delight. The only thing I didn't like was the ending, which seemed a bit like the writers backed themselves into a corner and just shouted "a wizard did it!" in order to meet a deadline.
  • A Holiday Engagement - An unemployed reporter gets dumped days before going home for Thanksgiving. Her family is quite overbearing, so instead of trying to explain things to them while still dealing with the emotional fallout of being dumped, she hires a fake fiancĂ©. (Bribes him with vacation tickets that she won on a radio giveaway.) He hits it off with the rest of the family and of course they fall in love and have a grand old time.
    I looooooooooooove the fake fiancé trope, especially when the characters handle it pragmatically, which these do. There's the usual 'fake guy says something that wouldn't make sense if they were really dating' funsies, but they don't go over the top into cringe humor (thank goodness). I would have liked to see the two leads share more screen time together, though. It felt like he was wooing her family more than her. (Also he was played by the little brother from Rizzoli and Isles. I couldn't take him seriously!)
  • Back to Christmas - A workaholic...architect? Eh, job doesn't factor in much. Anyway, a woman is bummed at Christmas one year after a bad breakup. Through magic mumbo jumbo, she gets a chance to go back to last Christmas and do everything over again. But no matter how much she tries to make things go better this time, they seem determined to fall apart.
    I really, really, really liked this one. All of the characters are great. The family is just the right amount of quirky, the heroine is, ugh, just heartbreaking in how excited she is for a do over and how desperate she is to get it right this time. The fights between the heroine and her boyfriend are realistic and reasonable. There is a neighbor that she falls in love with instead, but honestly, he seemed entirely superfluous and didn't get much screen time. The crux of the movie was the heroine discovering that she didn't "screw up" and cause the breakup, they were just fundamentally not right for each other. That's a really interesting lesson to watch someone work through, especially when they're still clinging so hard to the idea that this bad relationship will make them happy.
  • 12 Dates of Christmas - A woman gets set up on a blind date, but really really wants to get back with her ex-boyfriend. After screwing up both opportunities, she magically gets sent back in time to do the whole evening over again. And again. And again. It's basically groundhog day, but with like 8ish hours instead of 24.
    I liked this one, too, although there were a lot of continuity errors. (Why does the dog keep showing up? Is the commercial magic or not? So much I don't understand!) Much like with Groundhog Day, the heroine uses her time travel to attempt to create the perfect day, and can't escape the loop until she does. (Or until it hits 12, IDK, maybe she just got lucky that #12 was the time it all worked out right.) It was fun to watch her get to know all these random people that she'd been ignoring before, and to learn their stories and help them while they helped her. It's super frustrating (intentionally so) when she seems to be doing a good job halfway through and just keeps getting reset anyway. I guess the universe thought good wasn't good enough? Rude.
  • Christmas Belle - A woman who loooooooves books (Belle) gets sent to a huge estate to catalogue the grumpy owner's various collections and prepare them for auction. (She runs an auction house.) And thus she winds up more or less stuck in a house for many days with a grumpy, rude, taciturn boss. All the while some rich asshole keeps insisting that they're going to get married despite her repeated attempts to turn him down. It is literally embarrassing how long it took me to figure out this was Beauty and the Beast. Like, I was a good 20 minutes into it before it clicked.
    While I love the premise, and I love that Hunter/The Beast repeatedly walks around with his shirt off (^_~), there wasn't a lot of tension in this movie. It was just two people spending time together and growing affectionate. I mean, with gorgeous scenery and a gorgeous shirtless guy, so actually it was kind of soothing if that's how you want to spend a couple hours. The 'climax' of the movie tried to fit a whole plot in ten minutes, so it was a rapid fire series of mild misunderstandings that didn't get worked through, they just got easily corrected. Meh. More vineyard scenery, please!
  • The Spirit of Christmas -  A lawyer needs to sell a fancy inn before the end of the year in order to secure a promised promotion, but the inn is haunted by a ghost who becomes 'real' during the twelve days of Christmas. Because she's just so damn tenacious, she sticks around the haunted in anyway and eventually convinces the ghost to let her look into his mysterious death, hoping that the truth will allow him to pass on.
    Look, I'm just going to come out and say it - the ghost dresses in period costume the entire time and he wears it well enough to be worth the price of a couple hours. ^_~ The leads had some decent chemistry, but honestly I was more a fan of the ghost and the guy running the inn. They have such a..."yeah, I play chess with a ghost, it's no biggie" thing going on, and I was highly amused. I'd guessed part of the ending ahead of time, but not all of it, so that was nice. Overall it was a sweet, feel-good, middle-of-the-road movie.
  • Rodeo and Juliet - A romance writer and her daughter move into the family ranch in order to settle the estate after the patriarch dies. The mom's old beau worked on the ranch and claims he was promised half the property, causing tension. 'Unfortunately,' the daughter and Old Beau's nephew meet and hit it off real well. He starts training her how to barrel race in secret, using her grandfather's old horse.
    This premise has ALL OF MY FAVORITE THINGS, it's so me that it hurts. Which makes it all the more surprising that I very nearly fell asleep during this thing. Romeo has no personality. Like, none. I couldn't tell you one single thing about him other than he wears jeans pretty well. The rodeo/horse stuff isn't detailed enough for anyone drawn in for that, and the mom/uncle have more screen time than the kids, but they're barely any more interesting. There's no romantic stakes, and the far more rich problem of "the ranch is drowning in debt" isn't properly mined. It''s all set up and no payoff.
    And I know it's a feel-good retelling, but not enough people got stabbed. Not even metaphorically. The whole thing was just utterly without consequence.

Next time I think I'll focus on classics. Have any favorites?

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