This article originally appeared in our sister newspaper, CityBeat.
We here at RFT love a good made-for-TV holiday movie – the cornier the better.
Are you a still-single 30-something who magically finds himself stuck in a literal snow globe in order to find real romance this Christmas? Great. Have you fallen in love with a sexy ghost who can only appear in the flesh for the twelve days leading up to December 25? Even better. Are you a hardworking big city businesswoman who needs to go to a small town to take over an independent family hostel / decoration factory / bakery / etc.? only to fall in love with the hunk behind your capitalist schemes before discovering the true meaning of the season? Tell us more. Bonus points for putting a castle or royalty, a real secret Santa or a wacky case of mistaken identity into the winter mix.
While Hallmark and Lifetime have paved the way for deliciously cringe-worthy Christmas movies, streaming platforms like Netflix have gotten in on the action, making their own original holiday movies.
Here are the new Netflix Christmas movies for 2021, ranked by their ratings on IMDB.com.
Santa Claus is back
Kelsey Grammer, Elizabeth Hurley and John Cleese star in this vacation adventure about a British family whose literal surname is “Christmas.” Four very different sisters come together for what they hope will be the perfect vacation at one of their Yorkshire mansions. But Grammer, their longtime estranged dad — aka Santa Claus — crashes the festivities with his much younger, silly girlfriend. Family melodrama, holiday hijinks and one-liners abound.
David and the Elves
This accidentally comically overdubbed Polish film is a modern Elf-like a tale in which a grown-up elf leaves the North Pole for the real world as he searches for meaning and connection with humans during the holidays. He befriends a child who helps him rekindle the magic of Christmas and inspires other jaded people along the way.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star
Since Netflix seems to have exhausted all the sequels it can make A prince of Christmas franchise (the third, A royal babybroadcast in 2019), Vanessa Hudgens gets to work playing three distinct but physically identical characters in the third installment of The princess switch movies. This year’s film follows last year’s sequel about a Chicago baker named Stacy, now the Princess of Belgravia; her look-alike Margaret Delacourt, Queen of Montenaro (aka Hudgens in the Jackie O cosplay); and power-hungry but broke aristocrat Lady Fiona Pembroke (Hudgens in a blonde wig, dressed like a Kardashian). The three Hudgens are back, switching places to retrieve a priceless relic loaned for Christmas to Montenaro by the Vatican.
A Californian Christmas: City Lights
In case you missed the original, Netflix describes this holiday rom-com as follows: “A year after their romance took root, Callie and Joseph leave the ranch for a family business in San Francisco – with wedding bells on the horizon.” Awwwwww.
A Castle for Christmas
This film, set in Scotland, stars Brooke Shields as a novelist in search of inspiration and redemption after fans turn on her for killing off one of her main characters. While there, Shields – wealthy but single – visits the castle where his grandfather worked as a gardener. She falls in love with the decrepit and expensive structure and randomly decides to buy it, but current owner and grumpy duke Cary Elwes won’t give it up without a fight. For some reason, he forces her to move in with him to try to scare her away. It does not work. A tartan-wrapped romance ensues.
The Claus Family 2
Sequels and foreign films seem to be the way to go this year. The second film for the Claus family is a whimsical Dutch escapade (subtitled) which follows Jules, grandson of Grandpa Claus (Santa Claus), as he tries to help a little girl who wants her divorced parents get back together for Christmas.
Single until the end
This is another romantic comedy aimed at those who find themselves single at Christmas, disappointing families everywhere. Peter (Michael Urie) asks his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to come home for the holidays with him to get rid of his family. But mom (Kathy Najimy) decides to set him up on a blind date. The prospect of dating other people prompts Nick and Peter to re-evaluate their relationship and realize they could be more than friends. Aunt Jennifer Coolidge appears for many gay jokes.
A terminally ill single columnist reporting on her own love life, Natalie (Nina Dobrev) falls for a stranger on an app. After spending countless hours talking on the phone, she decides to pay him a surprise visit for Christmas. When she arrives at his house, she realizes that she’s been had – badly. Instead of finding an outdoor hottie named Tag, she meets Josh (Jimmy O. Yang, Silicon Valleylisten)), a grown man with failed launch syndrome who lives in his parents’ basement and makes candles. In Cyrano de Bergerac-style, Josh tries to help Natalie win the true love of the man he claimed to be before things got heated between them.
A Boy Called Noel
Set in Finland, this child and his best friend the mouse must travel to a magical land of elves to bring back the spirit of Christmas and a spark of hope to his people – and the world.
To note: grumpy christmas and 1000 miles of Christmas had not been released/rated at press time.
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