Netflix has tested my love-hate relationship with Christmas-themed movies

It’s the most magical time of the year, and what better way to spread some holiday cheer than with some cheesy Christmas flicks? Stephanie Luong reviews two Netflix Originals creating some serious sleigh-bell buzz this year.

Rolling into December and the end of semester means it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. This calls for lazy afternoons in your pyjamas filled Christmas-themed movies and copious amounts of junk food.

While the Christmas classics such as Elf (2003) and Home Alone (1990) are undeniable must-sees during the festive season, new kids on the block, The Princess Switch (2018) and The Holiday Calendar (2018) may knock these classics off their top spot. Read on, and you too may sway in my direction, but beware there will be spoilers coming up ahead.

The Princess Switch (2018)

I hate that I love this movie. This is the only way I know to phrase how I feel about a movie that can only be explained as a Freaky Friday (2003) mix of The Parent Trap (1998) meets The Princess Diaries (2001).

Vanessa Hudgens stars as an extremely talented albeit neurotic baker, Stacy DeNovo, who is invited to compete in the world’s most prestigious pastry competition in Belgravia, after her close friend and colleague, Kevin Richards, successfully enters their pastry business. While in Belgravia, Stacy DeNovo meets the elusive Duchess of Montenaro, Lady Margaret, who is also the future bride of Crown Prince Edward.

This is where we begin a cliché storyline reminiscent of The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries. Stacy DeNovo and Lady Margaret are perfectly identical, and at the Duchess’ request, the two girls switch places for a couple of days and agree to return to their respective lives on the midnight of the baking competition.

This synopsis alone is enough to fill you with doubts of the cheesiness and predictability of The Princess Switch. However, despite all of its shortcomings – Vanessa’s mediocre attempt at some kind of accent and the numerous plot holes including the uselessness of the Brianna antagonist, I can’t hate this movie. The pure joy and romance the two girls experience as they discover themselves against the backdrop of a winter wonderland will fill even the iciest of hearts with warmth and excitement for the holiday season.

This movie is no Miracle on 34th Street (1947), but if you’re looking for a low-key and light-hearted way to wind down one evening with a cup of hot chocolate – this is the movie for you.

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

After watching The Princess Switch, this was definitely a change of pace. Compared to Vanessa Hudgens’ action-packed fairy-tale, The Holiday Calendar is a more grounded and Christmas-focused film. The only magic in this movie is the antique advent calendar that pessimistic Abby, who ironically hates Christmas, inherits from her late grandmother. As the days of December count down, Abby believes the advent calendar to be magic as a new door opens each day with an ornament which alludes to some event that will occur the same day.

From the get go, my interest in this movie was not as piqued as it was with The Princess Switch. Perhaps it was the general lack of holiday cheer combined with a somewhat boring storyline that set my dislike for the movie early on. Abby is the typical and basic Christmas-hating protagonist who I felt from the beginning of the movie, would inevitably fall in love with Christmas once she gets her head out of her butt and realises the love that surrounds her, especially that of her childhood best friend, Josh. Josh, who is so clearly in love with her and yet again in typical fashion – is sidelined by Abby as she remains completely oblivious and instead pursues a handsome too-good-to-be-true doctor, Ty.

For me, there was no climatic moment in this movie. Some might say it was the moment that Josh left Abby after their huge tiff, but Josh was never mad at Abby and never resented her, and Abby soon carried on with her life without Josh. It was like Josh didn’t exist for a while, and the movie carried on. It felt drawn out.

Others may say it was the moment that Abby lost the advent calendar, but she did not miss the calendar and the only significance she attached to it was that it belonged within the family. Abby was still the same Grinch as when the movie began. Overall, this movie held my boredom at bay one afternoon, but for me that was it. The Holiday Calendar is not a must-see and although there is a happy ending – it didn’t fill my heart with any emotions like the cliché fairy-tale ending of The Princess Switch.

Stephanie Luong is a second-year combined Law/Communications (Social and Political Sciences) student and is most likely asleep right now, or at any given moment really.