Christmas is quickly approaching, with Netflix beginning to release its yearly selection of Original Christmas romantic comedies.
Over the last few years we’ve seen the streaming service take inspiration from the likes of Hallmark and Lifetime and produce cookie-cutter Christmas romcoms guaranteed to numb your mind like one too many mulled wines.
Revolutionary these films are not, but boy do they hit the spot during the festive season. With romcoms like The Princess Switch, The Knight Before Christmas and The Holiday Calendar on offer, audiences have learnt that no plot is too ludicrous for a Netflix Christmas romcom. The more time travel, magic, doppelgängers and fictional European royalty on offer, the better.
With that in mind, I’m taking a look at Netflix’s in-house Christmas romcoms and ranking them based on just how ridiculous they are. If you want to see all the other Christmas films on Netflix in the UK, you can check out the full list here.
Which Netflix Christmas romcom will be named the most ridiculous of them all? Keep reading to find out…
Released on Netflix last month, Holidate has carved itself out a niche as the “I’m not like the other girls” of Christmas films. Rather than adopting the standard optimism about the spirit of Christmas, we have two cool young millennials (Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey) who not only swear, smoke and drink – gasp! – but hate the festive season! Quelle horreur! But while these things make Holidate a cooler romcom than the others on this list, it’s an infinitely worse Christmas film for it. Sorry, but I actually do want to hear about the power of Christmas to bring people together and also maybe see some magic: sue me!
One of the more genuinely wholesome films on this list, Holiday Rush stars Romany Malco as a single father of four who’s let go from his job at a commercial radio station. He’s forced to downsize from his privileged life and ends up buying the small local radio station he used to work on with friend and soon-to-be love interest Roxy (Sonequa Martin-Green). Again, it’s a nice enough film, but it’s pretty low down the ridiculousness ratings – honestly, that Rush can make enough money working on local radio to feed a family of five is the most unbelievable thing here.
Kate (Kristin Davis) is planning to spend her December on a surprise second honeymoon in Zambia; that is, until her husband reveals his plans to leave her. Instead, she heads there on a solo trip where she meets hunky pilot Derek (Rob Lowe). Vibe-wise, there’s far less snow than your average Netflix Christmas romcom, but there are a lot of elephants, which makes this one tough to place. It’s a nice way of switching up the formula, but it’s still lacking that ludicrous Christmas magic.
Christmas Inheritance tells the story of Ellen (Eliza Taylor), a socialite – do they still really exist? – who’s mostly known for drunkenly getting her underwear out in public and being A Lot. To prove to her CEO father that she’s ready to inherit his company, she must first travel to his conveniently named hometown of Snow Falls to learn about the value of hard work, helping others etc. There’s an Undercover Boss type of thing going on where Ellen doesn’t want to reveal who she really is and Andie MacDowell is inexplicably in this film for some reason, but otherwise it’s pretty standard.
There’s more than a hint of Love Actually to this YA-novel adaptation, which sees multiple separate storylines occur concurrently before coming together. It’s sweet, sometimes quite funny and actually includes some LGBTQ+ storylines, which is a welcome break from the hyper-compulsory heterosexuality we have come to expect from the genre. There’s some moments of ridiculousness, too. Teenager Julie (Isabela Moner) runs into pop star Stuart (Shameik Moore) on a train home but doesn’t know who he is, in a scene straight out of the One Direction fanfic I definitely didn’t spend my Tumblr days reading. There’s also a dramatic car crash at one point and a massive New Year’s Eve party, which in the age of Covid feels like the most unbelievable thing of all.
7. Operation Christmas Drop
Now this is an interesting one, because while the central premise may be ridiculous, it’s actually based on a real-life tradition. Yep, every year, the US Department of Defense uses military equipment to drop Christmas presents to people in Micronesia. Bringing in the rom-com element, we have career-obsessed congressional aide Erica (Kat Graham) who is sent to shut down the mission – boo! – but ends up falling in love with the tradition and hunky soldier (Alexander Ludwig) – yay!
Abby (Kat Graham again) works as a Christmas elf – classic – but dreams of being a photographer. One year, she eceives an old-fashioned advent calendar from her twinkly-eyed grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) and finds out that it’s able to grant wishes, as evidenced by her friend Josh (Quincy Brown) who declares: “Clearly the calendar’s magic.” Clearly. But then all her Christmas dreams start coming true – nice for some, eh! – and she finds herself caught up in a love triangle with Josh and Ty (Ethan Peck). Finally, some magic on this list!
You’ll notice a common theme in all the films that make the top five of this list: an obsession with European royalty that The Princess Diaries is almost certainly to blame for. For anyone who has, say, been to Europe, the fact that everyone speaks in bad English accents will be baffling, but I digress – it’s probably not for us. In A Christmas Prince, we have Rose McIver as Amber, a plucky young journalist who is sent to the land of Aldovia to investigate the country’s Prince Richard (Ben Lamb), a notorious playboy. Because access for journalists is famously so easy to get, Amber manages to sneak her way into the palace pretending to be a tutor for the prince’s sister, discovers that he’s actually a great person and they fall in love.
4. A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding
More of the same but there’s a wedding and the prince’s 13-year-old sister is an elite computer hacker!
3. A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby
Even more of the same but there’s going to be a baby and they’re trying to stop it from being given a deadly curse!
If you’re going to make anything your niche, cheesy Netflix Christmas films seem like a pretty good one. Vanessa Hudgens is the queen of this genre, her first appearance being in 2018’s The Princess Switch , playing both all-American girl Stacey, and Lady Margaret Delacourt of the kingdom of Belgravia. Yes, you heard right: Vanessa Hudgens plays two characters in this film. A multi-talented queen! After running into each other at a bakery competition (of course), the pair switch places and pretend to be each other, making the whole thing way more confusing along the way. This is largely due to the fact that Hudgens is already doing a terrible British accent while playing Margaret, which just gets more mangled when Stacey has to pretend to be her. Confused? So am I, which is exactly how I want to feel watching a Netflix Christmas romcom.
1. The Knight Before Christmas
Look, the film’s called The Knight Before Christmas. It would be frankly criminal for it not to top this list. As Netflix Christmas romcoms go, it’s got everything you could possibly want. Magic! Medieval dress! Even more Vanessa Hudgens! The knight in question is Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse), who has been transported forward in time on a quest only to be hit by a car driven by Brooke (Hudgens). It’s your classic fish out of water story, only this one involves time travel and a fish that does things like refer to a TV as a “magic box that makes merry”. But the absurdity lies in the details. The old crone who tricks Cole is never named; they literally just shout “old crone” at her face. Cole is also from Norwich, which seems incredibly out of place. And at one point, in a moment that made me genuinely fall off my chair the first time I saw it, there is a piece of Amazon/Netflix product placement in which the pair switch on the TV and watch another one of the Netflix Christmas films from this list. Sorry guys, everyone else has to go home. It doesn’t get better than this.