A Christmas Prince: Netflix’s Holiday Legal Drama for the Ages

The Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center. Central Park. The Statue of Liberty. The Christopher St. stop on the Seventh Avenue Line.

And for the final establishing shot … the Chicago River.

What was A Christmas Prince director Alex Zamm or film editor Marshall Harvey thinking? Have they never been to New York? Or Chicago?

The Record apologizes for being late to the A Christmas Prince party, but unlike Netflix’s foray into Christmas movies, at least we’re not lost.

It’s hard to say whether anyone should watch this movie. On the one hand, it’s not a very good movie. On the other hand, it’s decently entertaining. Rose McIver, who plays heroine Amber Moore,[1] somehow makes Amber seem reasonably believable despite the absolutely absurd premise of the movie.

You see, Amber is a junior editor at a magazine or blog or some sort who is sent off to Aldovia[2] (no relation to Genovia, I’m sure) because Aldovian’s crown prince, Richard, is considering refusing the throne, and goshdarnit, Amber’s magazine (blog?) needs a writer on the ground.[3]

When Amber gets to Aldovia,[4] it’s not long before she soon meets Prince Richard, played by a painfully drab Ben Lamb. In our first meeting of the prince, he, in true one-percenter fashion, steals Amber’s taxicab. It’s fine though, because soon we find out that he’s really a caring and sensitive soul.

First up on Prince Dick’s redemption tour is when Amber meets the royal family at the palace. The prince is beloved by his spina-bifida-afflicted little sister,[5] so obviously he must be a good person, because as we all know, people who are well-liked by children must be themselves good, and it is not merely that children have an innate tendency to attach themselves to their family members, including ones who are jerks.

Next, the prince shows that he is musically talented when Amber catches him playing a piano rendition of The First Noel.

Finally, to complete the absolution of Prince Richard, a plot device occurs whereby Amber/Rose McIver is shown to be a considerably better equestrian than the prince/Ben Lamb. Nevertheless, while out riding, Amber falls off her horse, which immediately runs away. Amber then gets lost (I guess cell phones and GPS don’t work in Aldovia), is attacked by a wolf, and needs to be rescued by the prince. None of this makes sense, but whatever. The plot demands its sacrifices.

Shortly after the prince’s rescue, there is, as common in such romances, an almost-kiss between the prince and Amber. Here’s a question: Have two people who are interested in one another ever actually almost kissed but not quite? Like I don’t get out much but I feel like maybe this basically never happens?

The two do eventually kiss for real later on, though when it happens, the prince interrupts Amber while she was speaking and also does not ask beforehand. It was not as charming as one might hope, and not the least because that Prince Richard himself is rather underwhelming. On a scale of Prince Naveen to Prince Kristoff, this guy is a can’t-sing, side-parted, even-whinier version of Simba.

Of course, to pad A Christmas Prince out to 90 minutes, it needed some conflict, which revolves around some crisis-inducing legal paperwork (legal paperwork that uses Algerian font, by the way. I remember doing a middle school project on abolitionism using that). I’ll mention also that if you pause the movie and look at the text of the paperwork, it would definitely appear to indicate that, unless there’s Aldovian law elsewhere to the contrary, the issue ought to be resolved in favor of the paperwork having no substantive impact whatsoever and there being no actual conflict or plot twist. That said, the final resolution to the crisis at the end is so absurd and so counter to any notion of the rule of law on so many levels that I just can’t even. I really should study for my last final.

An evil cousin and a femme fatale cum former lover perform the roles of antagonists. Strangely, when they discover the aforementioned legal paperwork, they do not seem particularly surprised! Maybe they were not enraptured by this twist as Amber was. Similarly, Amber does not seem particularly shocked or perturbed at the climax of the movie when her deceptions are revealed and all the heroes’ plans go awry. Underacting was not what I expected from A Christmas Prince.

I hope I won’t be spoiling anything by saying that at the end, Amber and the prince end up together. He proposes to her in the snow, and though she rattles off a list of very reasonable objections to marriage, and he retorts with a series of “good point, but here’s a total non-solution,” Amber, of course, accepts his proposal.

Fine. Whatever.

To reiterate, this is not a good movie. In fact, it is deeply flawed in many ways. Asking whether A Christmas Prince is worth watching is akin to asking whether a package of ramen is worth having for dinner. There are undeniably better alternatives, and yet, the thing itself is not bad, and many alternatives positioned as superior are, in fact, much worse. Certainly, I have watched many “good” movies that were absolute snorefests, which A Christmas Prince is not.

And so, I can’t say you should watch A Christmas Prince, but I also can’t say that it is a bad choice if you happen to be looking for a movie to watch this winter break.

A Christmas Prince

Netflix

★★★☆☆

[1] We know Amber is a Cool Girl® because she wears Chucks even during formal events at the palace.

[2] Amber’s flight home from Aldovia to New York (yes, the canonical setting is New York) is a United 306. United 306 is actually a flight from Phoenix to San Francisco.

[3] While Amber was typing notes for her story, the word counter at the bottom of her laptop screen showed “0 words” despite there clearly being words on the screen.

[4] The royal council of Aldovia appears to have not one, not two, but three Asians as well as a black guy on it, and also an Asian parliamentarian (all in non-speaking roles, of course). A cheer for diversity!

[5] At one point, the royal sister breaks into Amber’s computer because supposedly Amber “left the password in plain sight.” What does this mean? Did Amber have a Post-It note with her password on it? Did the princess watch Amber type it and memorize the keystrokes? Did she install a keylogger onto Amber’s computer? All of these things seem kinda unlikely! I actually found this bit to be the biggest plothole of the movie.

Jim An is a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 2018.

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