It’s kind of strange, but a lot of Christmas movies are starting to emerge, and this in the midst of horror prime time leading up to Halloween. Our friends at Lionsgate sent out one such Christmas title in A Princess For Christmas, and for those looking for a family-friendly romp, well, this is going to be pretty close indeed.
A Princess For Christmas follows Jules Daly, a young woman who finds herself in custody of her niece and nephew, who are having a tough time adjusting to their new living arrangement. Jules wants to make a nice Christmas for her new charges, at least, she did…until she lost her job. Now jobless and with two young children to keep watch over, Jules begins to despair of ever providing that great Christmas, until an unexpected surprise hits, bidding her to bring the children to England to visit the Duke of Castlebury Hall, who just happens to be their grandfather. That’s going to shake up the entirety of their lives…but will it end for good, or ill?
The funny thing about Christmas movies is that no one ever expects much out of them. They all sort of run together after awhile, and take on bits of each other. For instance, it’s not hard to see more than a few common thematic elements with other titles running through A Princess For Christmas. You’ve got many of the standards, right in the synopsis alone; there’s the poor family, down on their luck, when a chance for advancement suddenly presents itself in the grandest Horatio Alger style, even if Alger would have spat on the concepts of “old money” and “nobility”.
Despite the fact that this has sufficient dearth of originality to be the product of a Christmas cookie cutter, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a thoroughly heartwarming tale to spark the interest of most anyone; throw in the romantic subplot and you get a double appeal with Christmas movie and romantic comedy elements all in one shot. It’s practically tailor-made for its target audience, who will forgive most of its lumps and scrapes in the spirit of Christmas. Worse, they actually gave away a good chunk of the plot with the trailer, which is never a good idea, but particularly egregious in an environment in which originality is already so limited. They not only telegraphed their punches, they called ahead to tell us the telegraph was coming.
Sure, it’s not the most novel thing you’ll see this year. It’s only reasonably entertaining, but the sheer nature of the proceedings prevents it from being all that bad. Pretty much any Christmas movie has at least some positive benefit going for it–bad Christmas movies require them to be truly and abundantly bad, Santa Claus Versus The Martians bad–and this is not nearly that bad.
A Princess For Christmas, in any other setting, would be a thoroughly predictable and thoroughly pedestrian affair that would barely be worth watching on basic cable, let alone dropping cash to rent it. But thanks to the magic of Christmas, it’s elevated from “utter garbage” to “moderately watchable”.