’Twas the month before Christmas,
And on your TV
An explosion of content
So bright and cheer-y!
Let’s deck the halls with tinsel
And plot twists so cheesy
It’s Netflix holiday season…
And time to get streaming!
That’s right — the holiday season is officially here, and that means your Netflix feed is now overwhelmed with “original” holiday content. I’ve placed the word “original” in quotes here, because you know that if you’ve seen one of these holiday films, you’ve pretty much seen them all (the plots are not exactly all that varied).
The Hallmark Channel used to be the gold standard of cliché holiday films, but now Netflix is here to give them a run for their money.
I’ve heard a lot of scoffing about these holiday films, with comments along the lines of, “Who even watches these?” Well, dear reader, that would be me: I am addicted to these Netflix holiday movies. I don’t care that they’re cheesy. I don’t care that the acting is sometimes dodgy. I don’t care that the plot is contrived. These movies are the equivalent of a box of candy: they offer me no nutritional value, but man, do they taste good.
I could have easily written a blog post about the best holiday movies to watch this year, and named time-honored classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or even included newer films like “Home Alone” that have become family favorites.
But 2020 is a crazy dumpster fire of a year, and it turns out that what I need to distract me from all this existential dread is some over-the-top, magnificently cheesy Netflix holiday films. Here’s some of the “best” ones I’ve watched so far (admit it, you know you want to join in!):
A Christmas Prince
If you’re asking “is this Netflix holiday movie good?” then you, my friend, are asking the wrong question. Far more important is: “Will this Netflix holiday movie be fun to watch?”
And yes, “A Christmas Prince” offers plenty of ridiculous, silly holiday fun. Rose McIver (of the cult TV favorite “iZombie”) plays a journalist who travels to the fictional country of Aldovia (side note: fictional country names are some of the best, and funniest, parts of these Netflix holiday movies, because they all sound the same and have the exact same quasi-European appearance). Because this is a Netflix Christmas movie, she meets the prince and they fall in love.
I watched this with a group of friends several years ago in those blissful, pre-COVID times, and we giggled and shrieked our way through this delightful film. It’s arguably Netflix’s biggest breakout Christmas hit to date, and any Netflix holiday marathon should definitely start with this one.
The Princess Switch
The Princess Switch: Switched Again
If you thought “A Christmas Prince” was ridiculous, I see you, and I raise you “The Princess Switch.” In this wonderfully bonkers Netflix film, Vanessa Hudgens plays not one but two different characters: Stacy DeNovo, a Chicago baker competing in a holiday baking contest, and the Lady Margaret Delacourt, duchess of Montenaro (another one of those fictional, quasi-European countries).
Now, you’d think that with Hudgens playing two characters who look exactly alike, Stacy and Margaret would be secret, long-lost twins, right? But here’s the big plot twist — they’re not actually related at all! They just happen to (inexplicably) look identical, and they hatch a plan to switch places and experience what it’s like to live in each other’s shoes.
And if that wasn’t crazy enough, the sequel introduces a third character who looks exactly like Stacy and Margaret, and yes, they decide to switch places again. (What’s the point of calling it “The Princess Switch: Switched Again” if they didn’t?) I sincerely hope that next year we’ll get another sequel called “The Princess Switch 3: I Can’t Believe This Keeps Happening.”
“Holidate” is one of those Netflix Christmas movies that tries to have its cake and eat it too. It lampoons holiday movie tropes while still ending with a happily ever after, and you know what? I’m here for that.
“Holidate” stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as two recently single people who are fed up with dating during the holidays. So, they agree to be each other’s “holidate” — a no-pressure, no-strings-attached agreement to hang out with each other on the holidays. There are definitely no feelings involved, and actually falling in love is strictly off limits. (I’ll give you one guess as to what actually happens at the end of the movie.)
“Holidate” is a little raunchier than your typical Netflix/Hallmark holiday movie fare, so this isn’t one you’d want to switch on for family movie night. However, it’s a fun subservision of holiday films that also has a feel-good ending.
The Knight Before Christmas
It’s Vanessa Hudgens in another Netflix holiday movie with a surprise twist! This time she plays a lonely woman named Brooke Winters who meets a mysterious stranger named Cole. Cole isn’t just a regular guy looking for love, however: he’s a medieval knight who’s magically jumped forward in time to the modern day. (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if this premise is more or less plausible than Hudgens’ other Netflix holiday movie, “The Princess Switch.”)
When a movie has a pun-tastic name like “The Knight Before Christmas,” you know you’re in for a treat. This movie is both sweet and silly, and while you may roll your eyes, it will also warm your heart if you let it.
As a side note, imagine the crossover possibilities if Brooke Winters is introduced as yet another look-alike in “The Princess Switch 3”!
Holiday in the Wild
This movie has but a 38% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is practically a crime, because I enjoyed 100% of this movie.
Kristin Davis plays Kate Conrad, whose husband divorces her on the eve of their second honeymoon trip to Zambia. Heartbroken but unwilling to let her ex ruin her life, Kate goes on the trip alone and meets a pilot named Derek (Rob Lowe) and ends up helping with an elephant refuge. And because this is a holiday romcom, of course sparks fly between Kate and Derek.
Like all Netflix holiday films, “Holiday in the Wild” stretches plausibility a time or two. But if, like me, you are excited by the prospect of watching Rob Lowe interact with baby elephants, well, what are you waiting for? Stream this on Netflix now!
***Be sure to share your own holiday guilty pleasures (I need to know I’m not alone in this)!***