Every holiday season a crop of new Christmas movies make their way onto our screens whether silver or small, all vying to be the next Christmas classic. A Christmas Prince is Netflix’s attempt at that coveted title. With the plethora of movies on the streaming service, quality does come in a wide range, and this particular one falls squarely in the Lifetime Network or Hallmark Channel variety of holiday movie.
A Christmas Prince chronicles the story of Amber Moore (Rose McIver), an aspiring journalist who is stuck as a junior editor, who’s thrown into a last minute assignment that no actual reporters were available for. She’s sent far away during the height of the Christmas season to get the scoop on an errant prince’s return to his homeland. As with these kinds of movies, shenanigans ensue when things don’t go as planned. The monarch in question is Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) of Aldovia, whose whereabouts have been speculated upon in tabloid media. It’s been a year since his father passed away and now it’s time for Richard to accept his crown or abdicate. Not one to give the press what they want, he doesn’t show up at the conference. This is where Amber and Richard’s worlds really collide, as the journalist is mistaken for young Princess Emily’s (Honor Kneafsey) tutor, and is encouraged by her editor to get the inside story about this mysterious monarch. From there we get to see their relationship develop and learn of a plot by a sinister cousin to try to steal the throne for himself.
If this plot is beginning to sound familiar and like you’ve seen it before, well you probably have. It’s best described as a combination of Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The entire conceit of the film is built upon a convoluted rule about the line of ascension in this pretend European country. Little makes sense when given even a moments thought. The father has been dead for a year, and obviously someone has been running the country, so why do they even need a king? Why would the parliament let that linger for a year without a proper ruler? And that’s a minor failing compared to the fact that the relationship central to this movie is built upon a foundation of deceit. Amber may seem like an innocent and well meaning person, and she’s most definitely framed that way in the context of the movie, but it’s hard to fathom why anyone would be willing to remain with someone who lied to them, especially when that lie involves their true identity and their intentions for getting closer to you.
This movie is full not only of problematic plot elements, but characters as well. Count Simon (Theo Devaney) and Baroness Sophia (Emma Louise Saunders) serve as the villains in this piece, and are cartoonish ones to say the least. Simon has aspirations to be king and Sophia, Prince Richard’s ex, has aspirations of being with the man in power, no matter which man it is. They come across as poorly executed elitist character tropes. The most problematic character by far, however, is Amber’s coworker Andy (Joel McVeagh) who is the embodiment of all the gay caricatures that should now be retired for more nuanced and realistic portrayals. Inclusion is good, but this movie is not doing the community any favors with this character. His character isn’t featured in the movie heavily, but when he does make an appearance it’s cringeworthy.
The one element that threw me off the most was the character accents. And no, not the ones from the fake European country. The vaguely British accents were the one thing that wasn’t too annoying in this movie. Two particular characters in Amber’s life have the most bizarre, psuedo-New England/New York accents. The first is her father, Rudy (Daniel Fathers), who sounds like he’s trying to hide the fact that he’s actually an Englishman and failing. It’s such a bad disguise that I honestly though the actor might have been a non-native speaker of English in general. Even more jarring was Amber’s boss Max (Amy Marston) who has the strangest New York accent I’ve ever heard. Again, this is the result of the actress trying to disguise her actual accent. There are many actors all over the world that can pull off accents so seamlessly you’d think they were native to the area, so why settle on people who sound out of place? It’s just baffling.
Christmas is provides the backdrop of this movie and the holiday season is the catalyst to move the plot forward with the the day itself playing a minor role in proceedings. Otherwise, there is nothing special about this movie that make Christmas a necessary element. It could have been set at any time of year and little would need to be changed to make it work.
If you’re looking for the next Christmas classic, you won’t find it with A Christmas Prince. It’s trite, derivative and can be skipped for a dozen other better Christmas movies this season.