So, I’m going to admit something. I tend to avoid “Hallmark holiday” movies like the plague. I think they’re saccharine-sweet ridiculousness is just near-impossible to consume. (Yes, that’s coming from the same person who will watch pretty much any Disney Animated Classic on repeat.) However, I am also a person who weirdly loves The Prince and the Pauper stories. I dunno why; I think the idea of finding a doppelganger who lives an entirely different life than you and swapping places for a few days is just a really fascinating set-up, I guess.
As a result, I ended up watching the Netflix original The Princess Switch yesterday. I tend to trust Netflix originals (sometimes to my delight, and sometimes to my detriment). It was saccharine-sweet ridiculousness, yes, but it was also the doppelganger swap I love, so I pushed through. Plus, a BAKING COMPETITION?! Okay, as someone who recently jumped on the bandwagon of being obsessed with The Great British Baking Show, I have to admit, this set-up was exciting to me.
This movie was tropey and predictable and I watched eat while eating a giant donut from Donut Bar (more on that in a future blog post!) and drinking coffee and staring at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree, so yeah, I enjoyed it. Wasn’t a bad was to spend an afternoon.
Later, I figured since I was already down this holiday cheese-ball rabbit hole, I might as well dive into the Netflix original that made headlines left and right last year: A Christmas Prince. Now, since Netflix is hyping the hell out of the sequel, I knew where this one was going to end. And I expected it to be tropey and predictable too. But what I got was…not entirely what I anticipated.
This movie was so chock full of tropes and cliches that I found myself wondering… Is Netflix totally screwing with me? Like, I get it – these holiday rom-coms are churned out at alarming rates with the most apparent and obvious formulas known to humankind, but this steered into the skid with such ferocity that I had to wonder if they were actually trying to make an over-the-top holiday schlock fest, or were they winking at the ridiculousness of the medium and deliberately making it so bad that it almost seems good?
A quick Google search and you can find dozens of articles dissecting the merits (or lack thereof) of this “new holiday classic,” but no one can seem to tell me if it’s serious or not.
Most holiday rom-coms borrow from a very specific set of tropes, but they just borrow. They pick and choose and weave them together into a cute, fun flick that, yes, is the mental nutritional equivalent of the giant donut I ate, but we forgive and forget and move on. It’s Christmas after all.
But A Christmas Prince goes beyond borrowing. It’s like it’s trying to play “Holiday Movie Trope Bingo” and get a blackout. Don’t turn this into a drinking game, or you’ll blackout too. The Princess Switch would get you a Bingo, no doubt. Maybe even two. But A Christmas Prince is wiping out your whole card, and your neighbor’s too.
For anyone else out there who has seen it, what do you think? Was Netflix trying, in earnest, to just break into the Christmas movie market with gusto? Or is this film actually – in the tradition of something like Scream – more of a cultural homage, pointing out all the tropes in the genre and just how insane they seem when they all come together…but still making a movie that fits squarely within the genre it is satirizing?
This is why I stick to TV shows at Christmastime. You may remember my Very Merry Television List from 2015. I’m going to be updating it this year (I’ve watched more shows, and some of my opinions about these older ones have changed), so keep an eye out for that too.
And let me know your thoughts on A Christmas Prince in the comments, or tweet me at @ThatColette.