6 wonderfully tacky Christmas films you can watch on Netflix right now
These Christmas movies are wild and chaotic, and you'll low-key love them.
It’s Christmas, and you’ve decided you want to watch a movie with your family. You all argue for half an hour before deciding what film to put on -- and then someone leaves halfway through because they’re bored. It’s a familiar routine, an annual Christmas tradition as reliable as gifts under the tree. Choosing the right movie for family viewing is a risky decision. You could play it safe and rely on the hundredth viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone… or you could go even safer and revel in the hetero nonsense of a made-for-TV holiday rom-com!
Popularised by Hallmark and refined by Netflix, the tacky Christmas movie is recognisable for its plots that don’t make any sense, unbearably cringe comedy and stars plucked from an underground storage unit of hot people. (Most of whom are contractually obliged to don red and green.) These six films probably seem like obvious choices because we are all under the control of the Netflix algorithm -- but it’s also easy to take comfort in their wholehearted embrace of every cliche out there. Don’t fret: there are no surprise sex scenes here.
Holiday in the Wild
Ah, Rob Lowe. The plainest attractive man that ever was, which makes him the perfect holiday movie leading man. Setting expectations too high for men everywhere, he truly does it all: He flies a plane! He saves orphaned baby elephants! He paints! Working at an elephant sanctuary in the Zambian wilderness, he falls in love with Kate (played by Sex and the City star Kristen Davis) who has come to the African bush for her second honeymoon alone. Why alone? Her husband told her he’s leaving her right after their son heads off to university. Seriously. Their son is gone for about five seconds before he admits that he doesn’t love her anymore. Holiday in the Wild is barely a Christmas movie. It just seems like one day some execs at Netflix decided to throw tinsel on it and set a portion of the movie in December. But if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, so is Holiday in the Wild.
The Princess Switch
The first from Vanessa Hudgens, queen of the Netflix Christmas movie, The Princess Switch is basically The Prince and the Pauper but there’s double the Hudgens, and one has a dodgy, but passable, British accent. The prince(ss) is Duchess Margaret who hails from Belgravia, a made-up country where everyone speaks English. The pauper is Stacy, a Chicago pastry chef who agrees to compete in a baking competition in (you guessed it!) Belgravia. They switch places, fall in love with some cute princes and single dads etc etc. It doesn’t make any sense when you think too hard about it (if Margaret has never been seen in public, why doesn’t she just go out as herself?) but Hudgens is so charming that she melts my ice-cold heart.
The Knight Before Christmas
Like The Princess Switch, Netflix’s big rom-com of 2019 is also about Vanessa Hudgens getting involved with a British-sounding person. This time it’s a knight who finds himself transported from medieval England to 21st century Ohio to learn a lesson in humility, or something. There, he accidentally gets hit by a car belonging to school teacher Brooke (played by Hudgens) who doesn’t believe in love until a certain handsome knight changes her mind… you get the gist. He gets acclimated to modern life a little too quickly: technology doesn’t really freak him out, he drives better than me (to be fair, I’m a bad driver), and at one moment of meta excellence, he watches Holiday in the Wild on Netflix. Forget Marvel, the only cinematic universe I care about is the NHMCU (Netflix Holiday Movie Cinematic Universe).
A Christmas Prince
If binging a bunch of Netflix rom-coms has taught me anything, it’s that the streaming service loves royalist propaganda. A Christmas Prince, which looks like it was made in 2001 but was actually released in 2017, follows a journalist who pretends to be a tutor for the royal family of another made-up country in order to write a story about the bachelor prince who she, oops, falls in love with. It’s harmless fun for the whole family. Well, everyone except me, who is terrified by Amber’s failure at following journalistic ethics. Amber somehow doesn’t get arrested for her giant con, but is sentenced to an entirely different prison: two sequels.
The Holiday Calendar
The Holiday Calendar is arguably the best of Netflix’s expansive crop of Hallmark-ian movies because: 1) the characters have personalities, and 2) it isn’t so white that it’s blinding. Abby (Kat Graham) is an aspiring photographer who *gasp* hates Christmas. But one day, she receives an old-timey advent calendar with the prescient ability to guide her to a very bland man who sounds like Armie Hammer but is actually Gregory Peck’s grandson (in real life, not in the story). Standing on the sidelines is her best friend, Josh, who is “big in the travel blog world” and is the one who she really belongs with. In this romance about a calendar that can predict the future, the most unbelievable thing that happens is Josh buying a photography studio with the money he makes from freelancing.
Christmas With a View
Netflix has been trying to beat Hallmark at its own game for a few years now, and there’s just something mind-boggling about their factory line of so-bad-it’s-good Christmas movies that make them irresistible. Take Christmas With a View: a celebrity chef is hired at a ski resort restaurant and strikes up a romance with the manager. Sounds innocuous. But then there’s everything else. It proudly announces that it’s based on a Harlequin Romance novel (basically the American equivalent of Mills & Boon), every scene looks like it was filmed in front of a green screen and it seems like an editor never touched it. As I was lying on my couch watching the main character try to start her car three times then drive off for another 30 seconds, I thought I was dreaming. Also, when the two romantic leads have their first kiss, Clara, said restaurant manager, says “I can’t believe I’m kissing a celebrity”, while she is kissing him. Have some chill, I’m begging! I’m not even sure if it qualifies as a movie, and yet it’s impossible to look away. As much as Netflix tries, Hallmark’s tackiness can never be topped. We stan.