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Every Netflix Original Christmas romcom movie ranked: From least to most ridiculous

The Independent logo The Independent 16/12/2021 Isobel Lewis
Clockwise from top left: ‘Single All the Way’, ‘A Christmas Prince’, ‘A Castle for Christmas’, The Princess Switch - Netflix © Netflix

Clockwise from top left: ‘Single All the Way’, ‘A Christmas Prince’, ‘A Castle for Christmas’, The Princess Switch

- Netflix

Christmas is quickly approaching, with Netflix having release its yearly selection of Original Christmas romantic comedies.

Over the last few years we’ve seen the streaming service take inspiration from the likes of Hallmark and Lifetime and produce cookie-cutter Christmas romcoms guaranteed to numb your mind like one too many mulled wines.

Revolutionary these films are not, but boy do they hit the spot during the festive season. With titles like The Princess Switch, The Knight Before Christmas and A Castle for Christmas on offer, audiences have learnt that no plot is too ludicrous for a Netflix Christmas romcom. The more time travel, magic, doppelgängers and fictional European royalty on offer, the better.

With that in mind, I’m taking a look at Netflix’s in-house Christmas romcoms and ranking them based on just how ridiculous they are. This list has also been updated for 2021, which means that I have driven myself to insanity watching the new slate of films to have dropped this year. That is what we call journalism for the people.

Which Netflix Christmas romcom will be named the most ridiculous of them all? Keep reading to find out…

17. Holidate

When it was released last year, Holidate carved itself out a niche as the “I’m not like the other girls” of Christmas films. Rather than adopting the standard optimism about the spirit of Christmas, we have two cool young millennials (Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey) who not only swear, smoke and drink – gasp! – but hate the festive season! Quelle horreur! But while these things make Holidate a cooler romcom than the others on this list, it’s an infinitely worse Christmas film for it. Sorry, but I actually do want to hear about the power of Christmas to bring people together and also maybe see some magic: sue me!

16. Holiday Rush

Wholesome parenting from Rush (Netflix) © Provided by The Independent Wholesome parenting from Rush (Netflix)

One of the more genuinely wholesome films on this list, Holiday Rush stars Romany Malco as a single father of four who’s let go from his job at a commercial radio station. He’s forced to downsize from his privileged life and ends up buying the small local radio station he used to work on with friend and soon-to-be love interest Roxy (Sonequa Martin-Green). Again, it’s a nice enough film, but it’s pretty low down the ridiculousness ratings – honestly, that Rush can make enough money working on local radio to feed a family of five is the most unbelievable thing here.

15. Single All the Way

It’s somewhat surprising that Netflix has taken this long to dip its toe into the LGBTQ+ Christmas film pond (Hallmark has been doing it for a while, while Kristen bloody Stewart appeared last year in Hulu’s Happiest Season). Single All the Way stars Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie as a perpetually single gay man whose family are always trying to set him up over the festive period. It features all the cliches we’ve come to expect from a Christmas film, but is still cute, if somewhat lacking in ludicrousness (although it definitely picks up a couple of points for starring Jennifer Coolidge). Also, Urie’s character Peter is a social media strategist AKA the most unridiculous job in the world – even if it does mean we get to hear the phrase “Instagays” said in a Christmas film.

14. Holiday in the Wild

Kristin Davis talking on a cell phone:  (Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix) © Provided by The Independent (Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix)

Kate (Kristin Davis) is planning to spend her December on a surprise second honeymoon in Zambia; that is, until her husband reveals his plans to leave her. Instead, she heads there on a solo trip where she meets hunky pilot Derek (Rob Lowe). Vibe-wise, there’s far less snow than your average Netflix Christmas romcom, but there are a lot of elephants, which makes this one tough to place. It’s a nice way of switching up the formula, but it’s still lacking that ludicrous Christmas magic.

13. Love Hard

Nina Dobrev is Natalie, a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw who writes a dating column about the tricky world of online dating (I hear ya, girlfriend). She gets catfished by Josh (Jimmy O Yang), who is using the pictures of his childhood friend Tag (Darren Barnet) and travels to meet him, only to find out the truth about his identity, which, to quote Jez from Peep Show, isn’t very Christmassy. Natalie convinces Josh to help her get the real life Tag, but – and I’m not making this up – ends up falling in love with her catfish anyway. Obviously, this is a morally questionable thing to happen in a Christmas movie, but it is also quite ridiculous, so for this list’s purposes it works.

12. Let It Snow

a man standing next to a tree:  (Steve Wilkie/Netflix) © Provided by The Independent (Steve Wilkie/Netflix)

There’s more than a hint of Love Actually to this YA novel adaptation, which sees multiple overlapping storylines eventually come together. Fortunately, there’s some moments of ridiculousness, too. Teenager Julie (Isabela Moner) fails to recognise pop star Stuart (Shameik Moore) on a train home, in a scene straight out of the One Direction fanfic I definitely didn’t spend my Tumblr days reading. There’s also a dramatic car crash at one point and a massive New Year’s Eve party, which in our current moment feels like the most unbelievable thing of all.

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11. Christmas Inheritance

Christmas Inheritance tells the story of Ellen (Eliza Taylor), a socialite – do they still really exist? – who’s mostly known for drunkenly getting her underwear out in public and being A Lot. To prove to her CEO father that she’s ready to inherit his company, she must first travel to his conveniently named hometown of Snow Falls to learn about the value of hard work, helping others, etc. There’s an Undercover Boss type of thing going on where Ellen doesn’t want to reveal who she really is and Andie MacDowell is inexplicably in this film for some reason, but otherwise it’s pretty standard.

10. A Castle for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is my own Scottish castle (Mark Mainz/Netflix) © Provided by The Independent All I want for Christmas is my own Scottish castle (Mark Mainz/Netflix)

Let’s get the obvious stuff out the way at the top – yes, Brooke Shields is too famous to be in this film. She plays a bestselling American author plagued by one massive flop, who, in an attempt to reconnect with her roots, heads off to Scotland. Unsurprisingly, the locals – including the handsome Duke of Dunbar (Cary Elwes) – are sceptical of her plans to barge in and take things over. “To women buying castles,” is one girlboss cheer in the pub. Really, don’t we all deserve castles this Christmas?

9. Operation Christmas Drop

Now this is an interesting one, because while the central premise may be ridiculous, it’s actually based on a real-life tradition. Yep, every year, the US Department of Defense uses military equipment to drop Christmas presents to people in Micronesia. Bringing in the romcom element, we have career-obsessed congressional aide Erica (Kat Graham) who is sent to shut down the mission – boo! – but ends up falling in love with the tradition and hunky soldier (Alexander Ludwig) – yay!

8. The Holiday Calendar

Quincy Brown, Kat Graham, Quincy Brown standing in front of a brick building:  (Netflix) © Provided by The Independent (Netflix)

Abby (Kat Graham again) works as a Christmas elf – classic – but dreams of being a photographer. One year, she receives an old-fashioned advent calendar from her twinkly-eyed grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) and finds out that it’s able to grant wishes, as evidenced by her friend Josh (Quincy Brown) who declares: “Clearly the calendar’s magic.” Clearly. But then all her Christmas dreams start coming true – nice for some, eh! – and she finds herself caught up in a love triangle with Josh and Ty (Ethan Peck). Finally, some magic on this list!

7. A Christmas Prince

You’ll notice a common theme among the films that top this ranking: an obsession with European royalty The Princess Diaries is almost certainly to blame for. For anyone who has, say, been to Europe, the fact that everyone speaks in bad English accents will be baffling, but I digress – it’s probably not for us. In A Christmas Prince, we have Rose McIver as Amber, a plucky young journalist who is sent to the land of Aldovia to investigate the country’s Prince Richard (Ben Lamb), a notorious playboy. Because celebrity access is famously so easy for journalists to get, Amber manages to sneak her way into the palace pretending to be a tutor for the prince’s sister, discovers that he’s actually a great person and they fall in love.

6. A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding

a man and a woman standing in front of a building:  (Netflix) © Provided by The Independent (Netflix)

More of the same but there’s a wedding and the prince’s 13-year-old sister is an elite computer hacker!

5. A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby

Even more of the same but there’s going to be a baby and they’re trying to stop it from being given a deadly curse!

4. The Princess Switch

Vanessa Hudgens, Vanessa Hudgens are posing for a picture:  (Netflix) © Provided by The Independent (Netflix)

If you’re going to make anything your niche, cheesy Christmas films seem like a pretty good one. Vanessa Hudgens is Netflix’s queen of this genre and it’s clearly paying off – I’ve seen her Architectural Digest house tour! Her first appearance came in 2018’s The Princess Switch, playing both all-American girl Stacey and Lady Margaret Delacourt of the kingdom of Belgravia. Yes, you heard right: Vanessa Hudgens plays two characters in this film. A multi-talented queen! After running into each other at a bakery competition (of course), the pair switch places and pretend to be each other, making the whole thing way more confusing along the way. This is largely due to the fact that Hudgens is already doing a terrible British accent while playing Margaret, which just gets more mangled when Stacey has to pretend to be her. Confused? So am I, which is exactly how I want to feel watching a Netflix Christmas romcom.

3. The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star

In The Princess Switch, Vanessa Hudgens played two identical characters. In The Princess Switch 2, she played three. If this franchise was to follow the expected algebraic formula (number of Princess Switch films + 1 = number of Vanessa Hudgens döppelgangers), one would hope that The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, in which all the Hudgenses come together come together to track down a missing jewel, would add another one into the mix. But no: Hudgens is only in this film three times and I, for one, feel cheated.

2. The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again

Another Vanessa Hudgens? We should be so lucky! (Netflix) © Provided by The Independent Another Vanessa Hudgens? We should be so lucky! (Netflix)

The Princess Switch 2 was peak Princess Switch, when we were first introduced to the third Vanessa Hudgens (once again playing a British socialite with a dodgy British accent). Also, the couple from A Christmas Prince make a surprise cameo, proving that the Netflix Christmas romcom universe is more complex than the MCU. The film series could never improve on this and we should just accept it.

1. The Knight Before Christmas

a person talking on a cell phone:  (Netflix / Brooke Palmer) © Provided by The Independent (Netflix / Brooke Palmer)

Look, the film’s called The Knight Before Christmas. It would be frankly criminal for it not to top this list. As Netflix Christmas romcoms go, it’s got everything you could possibly want. Magic! Medieval dress! Even more Vanessa Hudgens! The knight in question is Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse), who has been transported forward in time on a quest only to be hit by a car driven by Brooke (Hudgens). It’s your classic fish out of water story, only this one involves time travel and a fish that does things like refer to a TV as a “magic box that makes merry”. But the absurdity lies in the details. The old crone who tricks Cole is never named; they literally just shout “old crone” at her face. Cole is also from Norwich, which seems incredibly out of place. And at one point, in a moment that made me genuinely fall off my chair the first time I saw it, there is a piece of Amazon/Netflix product placement in which the pair switch on the TV and watch another one of the Netflix Christmas films from this list. Sorry guys, everyone else has to go home. It doesn’t get better than this.

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