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March 1, 2024
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February 28, 2024

WHAT TO WATCH: Holiday Romcoms

WHAT+TO+WATCH%3A+Holiday+Romcoms

As the holidays approach and Christmas romcom season is in full swing, which movies warm hearts best?

Romantic comedies, lovingly (or not so lovingly) dubbed “romcoms”, are a staple of the holiday season for many households, may that be in genuine enjoyment or a strange form of mindless hate-watching

Romcoms are often short and formulaic, seemingly providing little depth compared to the average movie. They have found their audience, however, in people who, simply enough, want to see other people fall in love. Watching these films are linked with the release of oxytocin, the “love” hormone and generally positive neurotransmitter that promotes empathy and bonding and has been seen to lower stress and anxiety. 

With PRHS’ winter break starting Thursday, December 22, students are about to get a lot more time to indulge in these films. The question of quality remains though, and before one Netflix and chills this chilly holiday season, they should find the romcom that best allows them to turn off their brain and just be happy. 

THE PRINCESS SWITCH (2018)

“The Princess Switch” (2018) follows a Chicago baker, Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens), who enters a Christmas baking competition set in` the fictional country of Belgravia, only to discover that she looks exactly like the young soon-to-be queen, Duchess Margaret. The pair decide to “switch lives” in the days leading up to the event, but find romance in each other’s lives in the form of Stacy’s assistant and best friend Kevin and Margaret’s fiancé, Crown Prince Edward. 

A slightly above average holiday romance film that will hit all the buttons for romcom enjoyers. The “Prince and the Pauper”-type setup makes it stand slightly out from the movies Hallmark churns out in the dozens, and Hudgens is charming enough, though the acting between her as Stacy vs. her as Margaret is admittedly tacky. The movie has it’s charming characters, especially in the form Kevin and his daughter, but both romances are nothing special and plot can become almost too wacky for anyone but a child to enjoy. Nothing offensive, with a few good scenes and nothing that drags out too much.

CRIMSON RATING:
2/5

OTHER REVIEWS (as seen on rotten TOMATOES) 


Jeffrey Lyles
Jeffrey Lyles Lyles’ Movie Files Read More

Basically an update of The Parent Trap with a Christmas theme, this is a charming, sweet and funny Netflix original… Exactly what the hopeless romantic ordered for their Christmas viewing this season. This is likely one that will be in heavy rotation throughout December.

Daniel Barnes
Daniel Barnes Dare Daniel Read More

A movie designed to be half-watched while decorating Christmas trees or scrolling through Instagram feeds, The Princess Switch is made half-watchable by Hudgens alone.

Constance Grady
Constance GradyVox Read More

I wasn’t always positive which character I was watching onscreen, but I always knew that whoever she was, I was rooting for her. As for the rest of the movie around her … look, it’s a direct-to-streaming Christmas movie. You know what you’re getting here.
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LOVE HARD (2021)

“Love Hard” (2021) features Natalie Bauer (Nina Dobrev), a L.A. journalist who’s most popular work is her stories recounting her countless disaster dates, most of which come from online dating apps. She’s just about ready to give up hope on love when she matches with Josh, a charming guy who seems to be perfect for her… aside from the fact he lives in a small town in New York. Chasing her perfect romance and an interesting story, she travels to New York for Christmas, where she finds Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) is actually a antisocial nerd who functionally catfished her using his friend’s pictures. With Natalie still wanting a chance with the guy of her dreams and Josh wanting a fake girlfriend to trick his family, the two team up to try and set up Natalie with the “fake Josh”, outdoorsy Tag (Darren Barnet). 

“Love Hard” is more functional film than the average romcom, and it’s better for it, boasting something most romcoms can’t: an actual conclusive, though basic, message to take away from the film. Often leaning more into the comedy than the romance, “Love Hard” doesn’t drag, with an interesting beginning, strong middle, and an ending that unravels a bit under the wackiness of the premise until the couple’s confession scene. Jimmy Yang is the standout, making many of the scenes with his comedic prowess, and though at first the couple seems to lack romantic chemistry, it grows throughout the film through a series of cute, not-too-tacky scenes, with the final scenes reaching the emotional heights of a movie theater release romance. 


CRIMSON RATING:
4/5

OTHER REVIEWS (as seen on rotten TOMATOES) 


Jennifer Green
Jennifer GreenCommon Sense Media Read More

What starts out feeling like a rehash of a dozen romcoms you’ve seen before turns out to be a film that slowly, albeit unevenly, constructs its own charm… Do you know how it’s going to end before it starts? Pretty much. But like any good date, getting there should be the fun part.

Kate Sánchez
Kate SánchezBut Why Tho? A Geek Community Read More

Truly, some of the more overused tropes work well in Love Hard because of their execution but more importantly because of the cast. Dobrev is endearing, Yang is charming, and the characters that surround them are hilarious and vibrant. To be honest, there isn’t a single dull character or moment of the film… Love Hard is charming, heartwarming, and just the best way to kick off the holiday rom-com season.

Jim Schembri
Jim Schembrijimschembri.com Read More

The film is not totally charmless, with Dobrev proving herself an adequate comic actor…The film demonstrates how the over-use of pop references isn’t in anybody’s interests. [Are] the creators of Die Hard and Love, Actually entitled to royalties[?]
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FALLING FOR CHRISTMAS (2022)

Falling for Christmas (2022) is one of Netflix’s most recent romcoms as of December 2022. It’s about Sierra Belmont (Lindsay Lohan), the spoiled daughter of a rich hotel chain owner who’s trying to find a purpose in life outside of being pampered. Then, after Sierra loses her memory in a skiing accident with her fiancé, she is taken in by struggling hotel owner and single father Jack Russell (Chord Overstreet), who teaches her the joy of the simple things and the importance of hard work- all while she teaches him how to smile again amid attempts to save his business.

This movie is the quintessential low-tier holiday romcom. With an interesting enough, albeit cliche, premise, the movie is charming enough to bare but not quite charming enough to hold one’s attention. The return of Lindsay Lohan is one of the main sellers of the movie for many critics, but even her performance is lacking, barely clearing the low, almost Disney-channel level bar set by the rest of the cast.  The chemistry between the main couple is lukewarm at best, and surprisingly, the scenes that drag the least are the comedic ones featuring Sierra’s over-the-top fiancé, Tag. It’s not offensively bad, but this one truly is nothing special, and few people will finish their viewing with any opinions on it at all.


CRIMSON RATING:
1.5/5

OTHER REVIEWS (as seen on rotten TOMATOES) 


Ed Potton
Ed PottonThe Times (UK) Read More

It’s an aggressively unambitious blend of pantomime acting, knackered plotting and will-this-do? dialogue… This is a rom-com in which both rom and com are in short supply, with zero chemistry between Lohan and Overstreet and a decidedly half-hearted attitude to the pratfalls.

Anne Brodie
Anne BrodieWhat She Said Read More

Hokey as heck, sure. The holiday bedazzling is fun, the preposterous story is easy comfort, and it’s great to see Lohan doing well.

 Rachel Wagner
Rachel Wagnerrachelsreviews.net Read More

This movie is pretty simple. It’s a winter-themed remake of Overboard without some of that movie’s problematic elements. Fortunately, Falling for Christmas has all the elements I need to make a cozy holiday film work. The stars have chemistry, the silly antics work and the whole thing brings all the feels
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LET IT SNOW (2019)

“Let it Snow” (2019) is an anthology-style movie that follows a batch of teens, all entrenched in some sort of romantic drama, throughout the span of one snowy winter day. Included in this group is: Julie (Isabela Merced), a girl having family issues who meets and has an instant connection with a traveling popstar Stuart Bale (Shameik Moore), Addie (Odesa Rush), worried about her boyfriend’s loyalty, her best friend Dorrie (Liv Hewson), who is being ignored by her closeted love interest Kerry, and Tobin (Mitchell Hope), secretly in love with his best friend, Angie, or, “The Duke” (Kieran Shipka). 

“Let It Snow”‘s premise is fascinated by teen drama, but little seems to happen in this movie, though it mostly does what it wants to. Adapted from a 2008 collaborated John Green novel, none of the stories stand out too much, with the one day timeframe of the movie and split screen time allowing for little development for any particular romance, though it’s a blessing in that sense: doubtful any one of these couples are interesting enough to hold a movie on their own. Nonetheless, the cast is charming enough and the few emotional scenes aren’t tacky. Ultimately, it’s good enough for romcoms and there’s definitely a notable sort of joy seeing all these different stories come together in an admittedly warm-and-fuzzy ending. 


CRIMSON RATING:
3/5

OTHER REVIEWS (as seen on rotten TOMATOES) 


Natasha Alvar
Natasha AlvarCultured Vultures Read More

Let It Snow doesn’t have enough striking moments to incite me to rewatch it again. So yes, it is a cute movie, has some decent performances, and has tons of snow. However, it doesn’t have enough Christmas romance gravitas to earn a spot on my Christmas list.

Jeffery Lyles
Jeffery LylesLyles’ Movie FiIes Read More

Let It Snow doesn’t have the megawatt star power and its issues aren’t quite as heavy and widespread, but it makes for an entertaining teen version of the beloved film… With a reasonable 92 minute run time, the film flies by and doesn’t feel like that relative that won’t go home. I could easily see Let It Snow being in the regular Christmas movie rotation this season and many years to come.

Eddie Strait
Eddie StraitDaily Dot Read More

Netflix’s Let It Snow is dispiriting fluff masquerading as holiday cheer. It doesn’t matter if Let It Snow is a good movie or a bad one. That is beside the point. The sole reason this movie exists is to warm viewers’ hearts and be a source of comfort. However, it’s too trite to deliver anything but eye rolls and frustration. As it works its way through a litany of clichés, Let It Snow occasionally happens across a sincere moment, but, in a way, that just makes the film more frustrating.
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About the Contributor
Kalani Gaviola, Editor-in-Chief
Kalani Gaviola, senior, is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs of Crimson Newsmagazine, as well as co-InDepth Director. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief and InDepth Director, and her third year in Crimson. Outside of Crimson, she is a varsity Cross Country and Track athlete, ASB Staff and Student Director, and an enjoyer of creative writing, reading, and drawing.
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