‘Tis the season for Christmassy movies: Magic, romance and absurdity abound in these new releases

By Kaylee Brewster

It’s that time of year again, when Christmas movies descend upon viewers like snowfall at the end of Christmas movies. 

Rather than wading through the plethora of new options, here is one place to start your holiday binge-watch. There’s plenty to choose from, from musicals to Hallmark-inspired plots with cliche romance and unnecessary drama, but all, to some degree or another, show the magic and wonder of the season. 

“Dash & Lily”

Netflix 

Romance: 4/5

Cheesiness: 3/5

Escapism: 5/5

Christmas spirit: 2/5 

“Dash & Lily” is the story of two young people, Dash (Austin Abrams) and Lily (Midori Francis), who fall in love in New York City while writing to each other in a shared notebook over the holidays. It’s a series, which means the cliches and drama extend over several episodes. It’s a predictable teen romance, but the premise is cute enough to be entertaining. It’s also one of those series that piles on the praises of how great New York City is and, as such, the focus is more on the city and less on the holiday. “Dash & Lily” is a good choice for book lovers and writers because the characters are far more mature in their writing ability and book trivia than typical teens. It’s an escape into a world where holiday magic and romance exists and the pandemic does not. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmW5GO6btMM

“Operation Christmas Drop”

Netflix

Romance: 3/5
Cheesiness: 4/5

Escapism 3/5 

Christmas spirit: 5/5

“Operation Christmas Drop” checks all the boxes for cliche-romance, Christmas movies. Ambitious workaholic Erica, (Kat Graham) is given an assignment to “write a report” that will give her a significant promotion at her job working for a congresswoman boss. She is sent to the South Pacific to investigate a military base and meets Andrew (Alexander Ludwig), who loves Christmas and is an all-around, Boy Scout type. Of course, they fall in love. Of course, she finds the true meaning of Christmas: helping others. Of course, she lets her hair down by snorkeling and dancing while taking a break from work. The fact that Andrew spends Christmas at the base, instead of with his family who he can’t video call because of poor internet connection, might remind some of their own struggles connecting with distant loved ones this season. Despite the cliches, “Operation Christmas Drop” and its South Pacific location offer some escape. Plus, it’s based on a real event, which makes it even more heart-warming. If you ever wanted to see a military meeting end with the words, “we need a Christmas miracle,” this is your film.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTHWAQG6Gxw

“The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” 

Disney+

Romance: 0/5
Cheesiness: 3/5

Escapism 4/5 

Christmas spirit: 2/5

So “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” has less to do with Christmas and more to do with providing “Star Wars” fans with 44 minutes of Easter eggs. It revolves around Rey (voiced by Helen Sadler) who is trying to train Finn (voiced by Omar Benson Miller) in the ways of the Jedi as Poe (voiced by Jake Green), C-3P0 (voiced by Anthony Daniels), Chewbacca and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) get ready for Life Day, a Christmas-like holiday. Rey goes on a quest that involves time traveling through the “Star Wars” universe to learn about how to be a Jedi master. This is where “Star Wars” fans can really have fun as she goes through all three “Star Wars” trilogies and even “The Mandalorian.” It’s a light-hearted approach with plenty of laughs as she meets Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, who are more comical than evil in this version. “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” knows its “Star Wars” audience and knows what buttons to press. There’s not much Christmas spirit, but like all “Star Wars” material it transports you to a galaxy far, far away. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bZxO5Dn9x0

“The Princess Switch: Switched Again”

Netflix

Romance: 4/5

Cheesiness: 4/5

Escapism: 5/5

Christmas spirit: 3/5

Just like 2019’s “Princess Switch,” the sequel provides a dose of holiday romance with an absurd plot. The first time around, characters Margaret and Stacy (both played by Vanessa Hudgens) met, noticed they were doppelgangers, and decided to switch places, which led to Stacy falling in love with Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) and Margaret falling for Stacy’s best friend, Kevin (Nick Sagar). The sequel revolves around Margaret’s coronation. Stacy and Prince Edward arrive with Kevin, who broke up with Margaret six months ago. Naturally, Margaret and Stacy trade places to give Margaret and Kevin time to discuss their relationship. However, a wrench is thrown into the works when a third lookalike arrives, Margaret’s pernicious cousin, Fiona. “The Princess Switch: Switched Again” has all the elements of a Christmas romance: a kiss in the snow, incompetent henchmen, mistaken identity and a Christmas Day deadline. Viewers can escape to some vague European country and leave the world behind -- as long as you don’t spend too much time overthinking the plot. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9OVdmIxkso

“The Christmas Chronicles 2” 

Netflix

Romance: 2/5

Cheesiness: 3/5

Escapism: 4/5

Christmas spirit: 5/5

Set a few years after the 2018 film, hero Katie Pierce is now a teen and unhappy about the holidays. She unexpectedly travels to Santa’s Village at the North Pole to help stop the bad guy, Belsnickel, from destroying Christmas forever. She’s helped by Santa Claus (Kurt Russell), Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) and tagalong Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Like the first movie, this one features plenty of Santa magic and elfish antics and a rousing musical number to lift the spirits. However, it also deals with real life issues, such as adjusting to change and being brave. “The Christmas Chronicles 2” is family fun for old and young alike. Spending any amount of time with this Santa Claus is sure to lift the Christmas spirit in your own home. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVzBwSOcBaI

“Godmothered”

Disney+

Romance: 2/5

Cheesiness: 3/5

Escapism: 4/5

Christmas spirit: 2/5

“Godmothered” isn’t as Christmasy as others on this list but if you’re looking for a vaguely, Christmas-themed film, you could do worse. “Godmothered” tells the story of Eleanor (Jillian Bell), an aspiring fairy godmother who is looking for a chance to prove herself when she finds it in a letter from a young girl named Mackenzie (Isla Fisher). However, when she finally arrives to help, Mackenzie is a disillusioned adult with a stressful job and home life, making Eleanor’s work a challenge. All this makes “Godmothered” more like Disney’s “Enchanted” and less like a Hallmark Christmas movie. There are funny and fun moments as Eleanor adjusts to the human world. While there are fleeting moments of romance, most of the plot centers on getting Mackenzie and her two daughters to believe in happy endings again. This means “Godmothered” has plenty of magical moments, even if they all aren’t Christmas-themed. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYWzEqX-J-4

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” 

Netflix

Romance:3/5

Cheesiness: 3/5

Escapism: 4/5

Christmas spirit: 3/5 

“Jingle Jangle” is a Christmas story with lots of heart and magic. It begins with Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), the greatest inventor of all-time who has created his best toy ever. Then his apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key), steals it. Crushed, Jeronicus’ gift for inventing slips through his fingers and he loses everything, until his granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills), comes for a visit and reignites his passion — around Christmastime, of course. Mills lights up the screen in every scene she’s in and Whitaker brings Oscar-winning talent. “Jingle Jangle” is all about spectacle, from musical numbers and costumes to set design and special effects, it transports you to a world full of magic and possibility. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYPUYVgwLWY

 

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