I have been looking forward to doing the research for this column ever since Halloween. Here is your roundup of new Christmas movies streaming on Netflix for 2019.
Holiday in the Wild stars Kristin Daivs as Kate, who is on her second honeymoon turned solo trip to Africa after a surprise divorce. There, she meets Derek (Rob Lowe), an artist and conservationist who works with an elephant orphanage. During her visit to the orphanage, Kate is quickly welcomed not only by the elephants, but also by the director, Jonathan (Fezile Mpela), who is grateful to have her skills as a veterinarian, even if they are a bit out of use. At the orphanage, Kate quickly finds purpose and freedom that her life had been missing for years. Her stay gets extended longer and longer until it becomes unclear if she will ever return to New York.
This movie is billed as a romance, but don’t be fooled, the only reason to watch it is the elephants. Like many Rob Lowe characters, Derek is supposed to be charming, but often comes off as a jerk or a creep. Worse, his dialogue is so trite that my husband and I groaned after about 85 percent of his lines. Truly, it was like Kate was falling for a page-a-day calendar. Like many Kristen Davis characters, Kate is privileged and yet still dissatisfied with being a lady who lunches. Kristen Davis, however, makes the cliche work. She seems to so genuinely fall for the baby elephants that I couldn’t help but root for her character. The elephants are really the best part of this movie. Despite its considerable faults, I still really enjoyed Holiday in the Wild, because elephants. I recommend it without reservation.
Holiday in the Wild was written by Neal. H. Dobrofsky and Tippi Dobrofsky and directed by Ernie Barbarash. It is rated TV-PG and runs 1 hr 25 minutes.
Netflix also released the latest installment in its so-bad-it’s-good series, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby. Like the other two movies, this film provides a new installment in the love story between King Richard (Ben Lamb) and Queen Amber (Rose McIver), as well as a mystery. While preparing for the arrival of their first child, the king and queen are also set to sign a treaty that gets renewed every 100 years. The other monarchs, King Tai (Kevin Shen) and Queen Ming (Momo Yeung) have arrived in Aldovia, but before the treaty can be re-signed, the document goes missing.
As the palace scrambles to find it before the centuries-old trade agreement expires, Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) discovers that the treaty is protected by a curse on the first child born to the couple who let it lapse.
This new Christmas Prince movie is as charming and corny as the first, and better than the second. The mystery feels very much like an old-school whodunit and I thought the angst Princess Emily felt over the curse, no matter how many times she was told by various queens that curses “went out of favor years ago”, was pretty sweet. The romance was played down here, as Richard and Amber settle into married and royal life, so the story focuses more on their efforts to modernize Aldovia and its monarchy, which allows for an interesting budding relationship between Amber and the very traditional Queen Ming. This is not great cinema, but it is a lot of good-natured fun. Again, I recommend it without reservation.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby was written by Nate Atkins based on characters created by Karen Shaler. It was directed by John Shultz and runs 1 hour 24 minutes.
Things got a bit dicier with The Knight Before Christmas, the story of Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse), a medieval knight who gets sent to the future by an old crone so he can find his quest and become a true knight. He is taken in by Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens), a teacher fresh off a bad breakup, who cannot quite figure out if he is for real or suffering from a traumatic head injury.
This movie is definitely for those who want a Christmas romance. I do not think that the plot really made much sense (aside from the supernatural elements) and I was not very invested in the relationship between Sir Cole and Brooke, but if you love Christmas love stories, you may like this movie.
The Knight Before Christmas was directed by Monika Mitchell and written by Cara J. Russell. It is rated TV-PG and runs 1 hour 32 minutes.
In 2000, there was a really bad movie starring Chevy Chase, Sissy Spacek’s kid, and–weirdly enough–Iggy Pop, called Snow Day. It followed various teens on a snow day and all their stories wove together. Netflix’s Let It Snow is that bad movie for a new era. Let It Snow stars Joan Cusack, Kiernan Shipka, Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, and many more, an ensemble cast bringing to life stories ranging from a girl trying to decide if she can go to Colombia or if she has to stay and care for her sick mom, while being followed around by a famous singer she met on a train, to a pair of best friends dancing around the fact that they’re in love with each other. Then, there’s the kid throwing a party at the Waffle House, which brings everyone together. This is not a good movie, but I still found myself watching to the end to see how the stories concluded. I recommend this one only if you’re multitasking, like wrapping presents or baking cookies. Otherwise, it may not hold your attention for long.
Let it Snow was written by Laura Solon and Victoria Strouse and directed by Luke Snellin. It is rated PG-13 and runs 1 hour 32 minutes.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours and best wishes for 2020! -Kasey