November marks that time of year when networks and retailers begin their seasonal push for the holidays. The Hallmark Channel essentially becomes the Christmas movie channel, and commercials seek to remind customers the Holidays are fast approaching. Over the years, Netflix has sought to try and capture some of that Christmas magic. And the streaming giant has successfully done so with The Princess Switch films and the Christmas Prince series. Now, Netflix is looking to expand its holiday collection even further with the addition of Christmas with You.
Christmas with You follows the usual Christmas movie formula. One party forgets why Christmas is special, while the other party helps to remind them after they return “home” or “to their roots” for answers. It’s a popular trope because it works so wonderfully with the holidays. This movie, however, decides to throw in a teeny-tiny hiccup into the mix as it includes the harsh realities of the music industry. Christmas with You opens with a very early 2000s pop-star sequence as our leading lady, Angelina (Aimee Garcia), films a video for one of her songs. She’s had a long music career and has done everything in her power to stay relevant in a constantly changing climate – including restricting her diet, faking a relationship and changing up her look and sound as needed. But when she’s told she needs to deliver a hit Christmas song in order to stay relevant, Angelina decides it is time to do something different and truly connect with her fans. What happens next will change everything for the pop star.
Simple premise, absolutely, and yet, Christmas with You still manages to be a delight to watch. Garcia delivers a great performance – and a believable one at that – while her leading man, played by Freddy Prinze Jr., seems to struggle from start to finish. Despite Prinze Jr. overacting each and every scene he’s in, Christmas with You is somehow captivating. Is any of it realistic? No. But is it a nice escapist fantasy? Yes. It’s a movie about family, love, and allowing oneself to be authentic.
It also tackles the realities female artists face within the music industry – things we’ve seen mentioned by some of pop’s biggest stars. Angelina struggles with eating, fearful of gaining weight. She struggles with being perceived as older or old, knowing how quickly the industry will write her off in favor of a younger star. She also seems keen to forgo her own happiness in favor of appeasing the record label because she spent so long trying to build her career, she’s fearful of losing it. It’s a rather depressing topic to take in with such a cheerful movie, but the two blend together wonderfully. Realistic or not, the fact that Christmas with You exists as more than a Christmas movie is notable. The cheese factor is there, yes, and that only makes it all the better — but there’s also heart in this movie, a whole lot of it.
Final verdict: Netflix’s Christmas with You is an adorable Christmas movie that is a million times better than anything Hallmark has to offer.