I Watched Netflix Christmas Movies So You Don't Have To

I Watched Netflix Christmas Movies So You Don't Have To

For the past couple of years, Netflix has been crushing the Cheesy Christmas Movie genre. It's almost as if there were a huge, underserved audience of romance fans who wanted to see the stories they love on screen ... huh.

Last night, Hubs had to work, so I took the opportunity to binge three new Netflix Christmas movies. There's a huge crop this year, and I'm here to let you know what's worth watching!

A Castle for Christmas (2021): Brooke Shields stars as a newly-divorced romance writer who has a meltdown on national television and takes refuge from the scandal in a small Scottish town. Cary Elwes is a duke who is reluctantly selling his nearby castle. They have character names, but at no point were they anything other than Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes, so I’m not going to use them. When Brooke offers to buy the castle (damn, girl got romance bucks), Cary insists on a contract requiring her to live with him in the castle for 90 days so he can show her around the property. Now, I know what you’re asking: do sparks fly as hijinks ensue? Yes, yes they do. And don’t worry: there is also an absurdly smart dog determined to bring the couple together, and a group of quirky townsfolk who immediately embrace the heroine and become deeply invested in whether she and the duke will get together. If you’re looking for verisimilitude, go elsewhere, but otherwise this is every bit the frothy cup of romance cocoa it's intended to be. It’s the perfect movie for a girl’s night, as the potential commentary is just as much fun as the movie. Topics for discussion include: Will Cary Elwes’s Scottish accent be the final blow that breaks up the United Kingdom? How much does this movie owe to Stephen King’s “Misery”? Did they include this end credit sequence by mistake?

Single All the Way (2021): Peter (Michael Urie) is a social media strategist whose LA dreams haven’t quite worked out: he takes more pleasure in his plants than his job, and his relationships have all ended in heartbreak. His best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) sold a successful children’s book, but is too “busy” doing TaskRabbit jobs to write the follow-up. Fresh off another heartbreak, Peter asks Nick to come home with him to Vermont for Christmas. When they get there, Peter finds out his mother has set him up with a handsome and kind spin instructor (hubba hubba), but Peter can’t stop thinking that the person he wants most might have been right beside him all along. This movie is a delight. It’s fast, funny, and charming. The kooky-meter is well represented, from Jennifer Robinson as Peter’s slightly acidic sister to Kathy Najimy as their Christmas-obsessed mother. Then Jennifer Coolidge comes along, smashes the kooky-meter, and uses the shards to enhance her décolletage. There’s everything you want in a Christmas movie: Hunky Santas, check; Tree-shopping montage, check; potentially-disastrous children’s pageant, check. Philemon Chambers exudes kindness, but Michael Urie is the actor I’ll look out for in the future. His elastic face rides the line between comedy and tragedy in every scene, and his eyes are so expressive you can’t help but adore him. All of this would have been enough for me to love this movie, but then towards the end they throw in KEVIN THE SNOW PLOW GUY and … wow. Just wow. Definitely put this one on your list.

Snowbound for Christmas (2019): By this time in the Christmas movie marathon, I probably should have just gone to bed. Instead, I decided to give “Snowbound for Christmas” a try, mostly because of this recent story about a group snowed in at a pub, which will probably inspire a spate of trapped-in-a-pub-by-a-snowstorm romance novels by next Christmas. The plot is simple: A woman, her boss, and an inexplicably bitchy blonde are going to pitch a business idea, but they get snowed in at a hotel where there are no other guests. But there’s also apparently a complete staff? Including Scott Thompson (of Kids in the Hall fame) doing an extremely shaky French accent for no apparent reason? Whatever, this clearly wasn’t filmed in a hotel; it was filmed in an office building made over to look like a hotel, which somehow makes the complete lack of extras even creepier. I kept imagining that there was, like, a hoard of zombies outside, and this was some sort of meta-commentary about living in extreme indulgence while barred off from an increasingly inhospitable world. That wasn't it, though: they just didn't have any money to make this movie. The female lead (Zarrin Darnell-Martin) is fine, but the male lead was basically human cardboard. I only figured out he was the lead by the process of elimination. Honestly, I probably would have preferred if the female lead found herself falling for Scott Thompson, and the whole plot could be her finding out why he was pretending to be French at this soulless hotel. Honorable mention: the movie ends on a montage of badly-photoshopped pictures of the couple on various vacations, and while I'm certain it wasn't intentional, it gave me one of the best laughs of the night. This is neither cute enough nor weird enough to add to your Christmas movie list.

What's the weirdest Christmas rom-com you've ever seen? Let me know at lily@lilycahill.com.