Aanji Sin ‘24
There are many things that get me into the holiday spirit: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Enrobed Joe-Joes, the opening guitar riff of “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses, peppermint flavored anything, and of course, cheesy Hallmark-esque Christmas movies. In recent years, Netflix has grown to take over the market of feel-good holiday specials, with over 30 original productions made in the last six years. And while none of these movies are the next “It’s A Wonderful Life” of the Christmas genre, they certainly make for a good snow day watch. In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, here are a few of my favorite corny Netflix original Christmas movies.
Expectations were mixed going into “Love Hard,” a recent holiday season release from Netflix about a journalist (Nina Dobrev) who meets her seemingly perfect match on a dating app. Like any sane thinking person would, she flies all the way across the country to surprise a man that she’s never met on Christmas.
It turns out that she’s been catfished (surprise!); the rugged, ethnically ambiguous outdoorsman whose Tinder photos she fell in love with turned out to be a facade for a dweeby-looking Chinese candlemaker (Jimmy O. Yang) who still lives in his parent’s basement. They end up striking a deal — she pretends to be his girlfriend until Christmas and he helps her land the guy whose pictures he used in the profile, one of his childhood friends.
I was, of course, legally obligated to watch “Love Hard” because of the unconventional Asian romantic lead, no matter how conventional and mildly offensive the premise of the film made him out to be. That being said, “Love Hard” has its good parts and nails most of the satisfying Hallmark Christmas scenes.
One of my favorite moments is their take on the good old Christmas caroling scene, when instead of singing the original version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Jimmy O. Yang’s character changes his part of the duet so the song sounds less like a date rape anthem – #consentking!
It’s sweet, a little silly, and the new rendition kind of slaps. That scene also features a Harry Shum Jr. who takes Christmas caroling way too seriously and finds him back in his “Glee” roots, so there was no way that I wasn’t going to enjoy it at least a little.
Let It Snow
“Let It Snow” is a 2019 Netflix release based on the book of short stories by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson, set in a small Midwestern town and follows the individual stories of a group of teenagers on Christmas Eve. It’s everything you’d expect from a Green collaboration: a pop star undercover and the small town girl with big dreams falling in love, a socially awkward boy with a crush on his outgoing, unbearably cool best friend, and a cheerleader afraid of coming out of the closet.
All of their stories converge at their local diner’s Christmas Eve party, like a teenage rom-com version of that one scene from “Crazy, Stupid, Love” without the fist fighting and more neon-lit love confessions.
The beauty of “Let It Snow” is simple in that it doesn’t attempt to accomplish anything out of its comfort zone. The storyline is exactly what it says on the tin, with no hidden messages or convoluted themes to parse out and justify. None of its elements are particular standouts — casting, script, soundtrack, plotlines — but they remain solid, combined into one reliable, satisfactory holiday movie.
Its small town setting is the perfect backdrop, and, if you’re like me and find immense joy in romanticizing the hell out of your own small town roots, you’ll appreciate the warm contentment of watching a bunch of over dramatic high schoolers be over dramatic high schoolers — but this time during Christmas!
The Princess Switch
2018 gave us “The Princess Switch” and Vanessa Hudgens’ apparent impeccable knack for the cheeseball Christmas genre, and I have never stopped being obsessed. A “The Princess and the Pauper”-esque revamp, the story follows two women, a Chicagoan baker and an austere duchess from an unspecified European country (complete with an inevitable British accent), who look the exact same and decide to trade places, just because they can. But, oh no! Both Vanessa Hudgenses end up falling in love with men in the other Vanessa Hudgens’ life and must find a way to reconcile these revelations with the lives they are meant to live.
“The Princess Switch” is not original. It is not particularly well-written. It’s horribly cliché and you can spot the ending from a mile away, and yet I rewatch it every year. There is something about the horse-driven carriage rides, Hudgens’ tastefully muted berets partnered with a chic bob haircut, and the overall feeling of watching the film epitome of a sugar cookie that scratches a part of my brain juuuust right.
“The Princess Switch” fits the exact kind of mindless, easy viewing that it was intended to, and doesn’t even try to take itself seriously. Hudgens nails both of her characters with ease, both of her love interests are gorgeous, hunky, and total malewives, Christmas pastries are baked at some point (I don’t know, the baking competition B-plot was lost on me), and really, what else could you ask for from a new Christmas movie tradition?
The Knight Before Christmas
My absolute favorite Netflix original Christmas movie, because I am the world’s biggest and most unassuming sap. Vanessa Hudgens once again knocks it out of the park with “The Knight Before Christmas,” a movie about a 14th-century knight who time travels to modern-day Ohio.
Vanessa Hudgens accidentally hits him with her car and she lets him stay in her house when she believes him to have amnesia, but can’t help but find him hopelessly charming. She tries to help him find his way back home and in the process they fall in love. However, he has to return back to the past to fulfill his duty, blah blah blah, it’s the stupidest movie in the world and I have watched it at least five times.
I don’t know what it is about the combination of Vanessa Hudgens and Christmas, but Netflix apparently keeps giving her contracts and I’m not mad about it in the slightest. Everything about “The Knight Before Christmas” radiates comfort and Christmas miracles, but the particular place that it succeeded in the most was the absolutely perfect love interest.
Sir Cole of Norwich is the epitome of head empty, and just lets Vanessa Hudgens drag him around and make him do her heavy lifting for ninety two straight minutes. They perfectly execute the fantasy of finding a white knight to give you your happily ever after — at the end they literally ride off on a horse into the sunset together, and it’s amazing.
Image Source: Netflix Life