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There’s something intoxicating about “bad” films — unsubtle films, low-budget ones, empty films that sell nothing bar unexplained concepts like love at first sight or Christmas cheer.
Is it because they’re mindless entertainment? Because sometimes it’s nice to think, even for a second, that life will sort itself out in the end? That happy endings with your one true love are possible?
This is a science-based* ranking of the Christmassy rom-coms on Netflix South Africa
Whatever the reason, there is no better time to be a fan of b-rate rom-coms than Christmas. It’s a season in which low-budget films overflow with magic, royalty, family, and, of course, a love for Christmas that may or may not have to do with Jesus. The studios won’t say — but what’s a Hallmark-esque rom-com without a myriad ambiguities?
So if you’re ready to embark on the wonderful world of “bad” Christmas flicks but don’t know where to start, I got you. This is a science-based* ranking of most of the Christmassy rom-coms on Netflix South Africa. Take your pick, and enjoy the show.
*The science is my opinion.
10. A Wish for Christmas
A Wish for Christmas stars one of two Mean Girls cast members on this list (+1). Lacey Chabert plays a dim-witted goody-two-shoes (-1) constantly belittled by the people around her — until she encounters Santa, who allows her one wish. She chooses courage (-1 for not choosing world peace).
Thus begins her brave 48 hours of… crossing personal boundaries (-1), pitching terrible concepts (-1), and falling in love with her unsympathetic boss (-1).
Also featured: beautiful bokeh (+1) and an unironic “it was my dad’s dream, not mine” (+1).
9. Merry Kissmas
Merry Kissmas (+1) is about a woman engaged to a choreographer with a terrible British accent (+1) and zero redeeming qualities (-1).
One day, in an attempt to avoid an annoying storekeeper who may be attempting a German accent (+1), the dissatisfied woman runs into the arms of a stranger and plants her lips on his (+1). Multiple times (-2).
The woman has no qualms with having cheated, and continues to spend time with this man without breaking up with her fiancé. This is passed off as romantic (-1).
Also featured: an unsnowy California Christmas (-1), a random puppy shelter scene to prove that the strange man is a Good Guy (+1), and a magic elevator (+1).
8. Rodeo and Juliet
Rodeo and Juliet (+1) follows a mother and daughter from New York City who — you won’t believe this — head over to small-town Louisiana when the family patriarch passes away.
Once there, the mother’s feelings towards an old (and very ugly) flame resurface (-2), while the young daughter (-1 for never specifying her age) falls in love with the ugly flame’s nephew, which is super forbidden (+2) because the mother makes absolutely zero rational decisions (+1).
Also featured: a horse named Rodeo so that the title could be a pun (+1), tons of manufactured drama (+1), a Christmas-bare plot (-1), and only one Shakespeare reference (-0.5).
7. Angel of Christmas
Angel of Christmas is pretty well made (+1), but it is also pretty boring (-0.5).
The story goes: a Christmas-cynical copy editor is tasked with writing a holiday feature for her big break. Her mother suggests writing about the family angel, which is magic and helps members of the family find their true loves (+1).
She then researches her great-grandfather who carved the angel, and the actress he carved it for. She also slowly falls in love with an artist who always has paint on his face because did they mention he’s an artist (+1)?
Also featured: a creepy colleague who can’t take no for an answer (-1), poor reporting skills (+1), and a plot twist you’ll see from a mile away (-1).
6. Christmas Inheritance
Christmas Inheritance‘s title may be super cryptic (-1), but it’s actually about a spoiled rich girl who travels to a small town (+1) to hand deliver a letter so she can inherit her multi-million dollar family business.
There, she slowly falls for a weird-looking small town boy (-1), despite being in love with a hot yet shallow fiancee (-1).
The film stars Eliza Taylor of The 100 (+1) and Jake Lacy of The Office (+1), whom I definitely thought was Jake Abel of Percy Jackson until I double-checked ten minutes ago (+1).
Also featured: a semi-likeable protagonist (+1) with a dead parent (-1), Andie MacDowell (+1), a crashing meet cute (+1), and a joke that hinges on big city girls not knowing what a hot water bottle is (-1).
5. A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale
A Dogwalkers’ Christmas Tale (-2 for missing out on a “tail” pun) is about a spoiled college student who goes home for the holiday and is pulled into protesting the demolition of a local dog park.
On her quest to become a three-dimensional human being, she meets a strapping young lad (+1 for Mean Girls‘ Jonathan Bennett) and a bunch of wonderful dogs (+2 for the hilarious continuity errors).
Also featured: a crash-into-each-other meet cute (+1), fake dog noises in the background (+1), a cheesy planning montage (+1), and an unsnowy California Christmas (-2).
4. The Spirit of Christmas
The Spirit of Christmas is about a real estate agent who falls in love with a ghost (+2). When tasked with appraising an inn, she’s told that no one would go near the building due to the fact it’s mega-haunted.
Feisty as she is, the agent refuses to be swayed by some 1920s bro who gels his hair to his face (-1) and talks like a kid in grade nine improvising Shakespeare (+1). He’s cursed, and she sets out to save him.
She then falls in love with him (+1). The ghost (+1).
Also featured: nonsensical science (-1), and whack special effects (-0.5).
3. Once Upon a Holiday
A princess (+1) with a dead parent (-1) just wants to live a normal life — and so one day, in the middle of New York City, she runs away in a fancy dress with no money.
While outside, she realises that she is woefully underprepared (+1 for self-awareness) and eventually accepts the help of charming single man (+1).
Also featured: actress from film classic Step Up 2: The Streets (+1), Christmas light bokehs for days (+1), and a pretty uneventful plot (-1).
2. A Christmas Prince
A Christmas Prince is a better made film than anything else on this list (+2), but in an attempt to be too good of a film, it avoids all hints of the colourful fun Bad Movies can be (-1).
It tells the story of a journalist who sneaks her way into the royal family of Aldovia’s household (+1 for fake Princess Diaries-esque nation) by pretending to be a tutor to the disabled princess (+1 for representation).
Also featured: actual high stakes (+1), dead parents (-1), terrible cardigans (-1), wonderful turtlenecks (+1), and ridiculous writing notes (+1).
1. How Sarah Got Her Wings
Sarah is a good human. She goes to church often and spends her time helping others. But then she dies and is sent to the heaven’s lobby where she meets the greatest angel ever (+2).
This angel tells her that she didn’t make the List (-1 for zero explanation) and will be given a limited time on earth to fix what she messed up. She then appears in her ex-boyfriend’s apartment (+1 for being shirtless and beautiful) and she formulates a plan.
Also featured: an adorable child actor (+1), a genuinely entertaining script (+2), everyone being lit in spotlights (-1), and a dope concept (+1) with an unsatisfying ending (-0.5).
Feature image: A Wish for Christmas (left), A Christmas Prince (centre), Christmas Inheritance (right)