The title font is neon green. First thought: immediately sceptical about this experience. Second thought: why is Gretchen Wieners in this film?
At the very start of this made-for-TV movie which has made it onto UK Netflix – rather than a classic like Love Actually, which I’m sure the lucky Americans get to enjoy on US Netflix – the male lead, Stephen Hagan, brings a charisma that might save the dodgy premise: girl and guy fall in love, guy admits he’s a prince (‘Prince and Me’?), his mum hates girl (‘Monster in Law’?) because she’s a commoner (ensue every scene from Pretty Woman) but eventually realises the error of her ways and everyone loves each other. Aww.
Anyway, Hagan is impressive the whole way through. Not only is he soft on the eye but he amazingly has screen presence and isn’t painful to endure, which can’t always be said for Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls’ Gretchen Wieners). I felt something like awe when he managed to produce cringe-worthy lines without making my insides want to crumple in on themselves.
Third thought: is this the soundtrack to a children’s television show?
Ten minutes in and it’s obvious that there was literally no budget for this film. I’m 90 per cent sure that the same plastic Christmas tree has been used in every room of the ‘palace’, and its ‘ballroom’ looks like a village hall decorated for a tacky wedding. It’s at this point I think the set designer should have just stopped and gone home.
There are some moments that could have been poignant which are ruined by weird directing and weirder acting, for example, when Emily is leaving for Cordinia (The Princess Diaries!) and her dad says, with a massive smile on his face: “I wish your Mom was here!” with zero explanation. Then we move on and Mom is never ever mentioned again. Who and where even is Mom?
“I felt something like awe when he managed to produce cringe-worthy lines without making my insides want to crumple in on themselves.”
I often wonder why these teleplays are ever produced. Why spend any money (not a lot) on something that will inevitably be painfully awful? Didn’t anyone on the set want to throw a tantrum about having to work on this terrible film and question what their life had become?
I know I’m being harsh. Normally I enjoy the weird, unheard-of Christmas films that Channel 5 play continuously over the festive season. But A Royal Christmas is probably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. It’s not even good as a guilty pleasure, or as something to get you in the mood for Yuletide joy (because it’s filmed in the height of summer); it’s just very, very bad. I’m actually impressed that I managed to get through the whole of it. There were moments where I wanted to give up, but I powered on for all of you. And, in a way, I’m glad I did, because now I can safely say I have watched one of the worst films on Netflix. That’s an achievement in itself, right?
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