I reveal the Netflix Christmas Movie Universe (NCMU).
SUMMARIES (Spoilers, There’s a Wedding and a Baby)
A year after the events of A Christmas Prince, Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb) are getting married. Also, the government of Aldovia, now run by Richard, is not doing great. Richard tried to increase infrastructure spending and to try and modernize parts of the semi-medieval kingdom, only for it to cause mass unemployment. His mother, Helena (Alice Krige), invites her former advisor, Leopold (Simon Dutton) to help. At the same time, Amber is having trouble dealing with her wedding responsibilities and the fact that being a princess means that the royal PR team censors her blog. Also, Simon (Theo Devaney) is back, having lost all of his money after marrying a woman who expected him to steal the throne from Richard. There’s some relationship drama owing mostly to Amber not really thinking about the fact that becoming royalty means you can’t do some stuff and due to Richard still being the human equivalent of a bag of doorknobs. Also, Amber’s father, Rudy (John Guerrasio), annoys everyone by being a New Yorker.
A year after that, Amber and Richard are expecting their first child. At the same time, Aldovia is supposed to renew its 600 year old treaty with the country of Penglia. If it is not ratified, the two countries are supposed to return to war, despite the fact that neither has an army or wants the war. However, when the King (Kevin Shen) and Queen (Momo Yeung) of Penglia arrive, the treaty is stolen by someone. It’s up to Amber and the royal family to find the treaty before the two countries are driven back to… having to negotiate the treaty again. Also, if the Aldovians are found to be breaking the treaty, their baby will be cursed, because that’s part of the treaty. Naturally, people are wary around Simon, who happens to be friends with the Penglian Attache Lynn (Crystal Yu). He’s also dating Amber’s best friend Melissa (Tahirah Sharif).
While I could get through A Christmas Prince just fine despite it being a generic Christmas movie, that courtesy does not extend to these sequels. I can deal with a Hallmark-style movie because they’re all about falling in love and you know they’re going to find happy endings and it’s Christmas and it’s cute. Just let me enjoy happy things, dammit. These sequels, however, are not about that. Instead, they have to try to be actual movies continuing the story that, for the most part, was over and no one should try to look into more. They have to have conflict so they’re not boring, but since the world of a Hallmark movie is mostly pretty great, it’s hard to come up with viable conflicts. I’m assuming, based on these plots, that the writers threw darts at a wall, because what they came up with just was not good.
In the second film, the A plot is that Amber is being told what to do with her wedding and is upset that she doesn’t get to have control over it. The problem, of course, is that she’s had a year to deal with this (and could, in fact, have reasonably asked for more time), and somehow never realized that a royal wedding IS a big deal. It’s a major event for the countries that have them. You don’t get to design your own because it’s about showing off to the world more than it’s about your actual wedding. Royals sometimes have second, private, ceremonies to be more personal, but the fact that she seems shocked by the situation suggests she’s not been paying attention to anything for a year. The B plot is that Richard’s economic plan fails miserably, only for it to be revealed that *SPOILER* Leopold has just been stealing most of the money. Now, there are corrupt countries where the rulers steal most of the wealth, but that’s usually because nobody can fact-check the rulers. Throughout the movie, Richard keeps insisting that the numbers “just don’t add up” and never apparently has anyone do an audit. He’s a terrible head of State, but that means that both of the conflicts are caused by the leads being dumb, and that’s just a bad way to do a film.
In the third movie, the main plot is that a treaty is stolen which, technically, means that two countries go back to war. The movie then constantly undercuts that by pointing out that neither country has an army, neither one wants to go back to war, and that the two countries are staunch allies. Apparently realizing that this would not make a good film, they add a subplot in about a curse on the baby, which they then undercut by pointing out magic isn’t real. This is already a bad way to put it out, but also, MAGIC IS REAL in this universe. Amber and Richard cameo in The Princess Switch: Switched Again. In that film, we see the kindly old man (Robin Soans) from the first film, who clearly is some sort of magical elf as he shows up with advice in multiple guises. However, if that’s not enough for you, this is also the same universe as The Knight Before Christmas (review coming tomorrow), in which a sorceress sends a knight through time. That movie includes someone buying a replica of the King’s acorn ornament from the first A Christmas Prince movie, mentioning it’s from Aldovia. Yes, Netflix Christmas movies have a shared universe, and yes, magic is real in that universe. Ergo, the curse COULD be real, and they should legitimately have been worried about it. Also, since A Christmas Prince was watched by one of the characters in The Princess Switch, I guess the movie is a documentary in that world.
I will give these films credit about one thing: Simon. They manage to redeem the villain to the point that I start to question if he even was the villain. I mean, in the first film he’s a jerk and a scheming weasel, but also it turns out that Richard is not a good king and doesn’t want the job. I can’t really blame him for not wanting to trust the country to a jet-setting playboy. I do think that Simon needed to be knocked down a peg to learn humility, but by the end of the series I think he’s one of the better-constructed characters.
Overall, these are not good sequels. The best part about them is cementing that there could be an Avengers-style Christmas Cross-over, but it would still be terrible.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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