Netflix’s “Falling for Christmas” follows in the celebrated snow-dusted footprints of the “A Christmas Prince” trilogy and “The Princess Switch” duology. Each film attempts to answer one of Zeno’s lesser-known paradoxes: how can Netflix, an Academy-Award-winning film studio, distribute a hate-bait Hallmark-style Christmas classic?
Modern day Mr. and Mrs. Clauses Michael and Janeen Damian, known for co-creating such yuletide joys as “Much Ado About Christmas” and “The Christmas Waltz” plucked Lindsay Lohan to helm the film. Though the star’s filmography has been relatively sparse in recent years, her roles in 2000s teen movies cemented her celebrity status. When one thinks of Christmas, though, one does not often think of Lindsay Lohan, unless you count her infamous “Jingle Bell Rock” scene in “Mean Girls” (keep an eye out for a slightly overzealous reference to it in “Falling for Christmas”).
The film follows Sierra Belmont (Lohan) as she attempts to defeat both nepotism and the working class. Her father, mogul Beauregard Belmont (played by soap star Jack Wagner) wants her to take over the family hotel business, but Sierra dreams of … starting a business? Becoming an artist? The script doesn’t specify. Thankfully, just as Beauregard intends to appoint Sierra the “Vice President of Atmosphere” and her pushy influencer boyfriend (George Young proposes, the couple falls off of a cliff, earning light chuckles from audiences everywhere. Oh, the serendipity!
From there on, “Falling for Christmas” plays a bingo game of tinsel-toned tropes. Sierra develops amnesia, she’s taken in by lodge owner Jake (Chord Overstreet), a doe-eyed child reminds viewers of the magic of Christmas and a one-dimensional grandmother sits in several big comfy chairs. No spoilers ahead, but it’s a love story. Along the way, Sierra learns to make a bed, do laundry, fry an egg and treat hospitality employees like human beings.
It’s safe to say that no one watches “Falling for Christmas” expecting Academy-Award-worthy material. Holiday movies like “The Christmas Prince” feed two base indulgences: nostalgia and hate-watching. Audiences can take their pick.
For the Hallmark-loving, Christmas-craving viewer, “Falling for Christmas” quenches thematic thirsts that eggnog can never satisfy. The bitter protagonist softens out, true love overcomes all and everyone lives happily ever after. Sure, Lohan and Overstreet lack believable chemistry, but whatever. The fruitcake is almost done!
For the highbrow viewer, “Falling for Christmas” is a hoot, something to slam on Letterboxd in under 90 minutes. Uninteresting side characters pollute the snowy screen. Uninspired jokes fail to land and fall off tiny cliffs of their own. One may call it “camp” if they want to sound cultured.
Yet, if the endless cornucopia of Hallmark classics caters to those who love “camp,” “Falling for Christmas” mollifies those malaprop-loving mountebanks who say they love camp but couldn’t actually define the word if pressed on it (or “mollify” or “malaprop” or “mountebank” for that matter). It doesn’t go far enough into the absurd to be called camp. There’s no real commitment to exaggeration, mostly plot-wise but also performance-wise, except for George Young as Sierra’s boyfriend Tad Fairchild (Young knows exactly what movie he’s in). And though writer Susan Sontag once wrote that the truest camp doesn’t try to be camp, “Falling for Christmas” does try. It just fails.
In fact, the most camp thing about the film is its casting of Lohan. She remains the ultimate nostalgia pick. Though some may be surprised by Lohan’s turn to TV movies, she is the perfect fit. She serves both the holiday fanatics and the Hallmark hate-watchers.
“Falling for Christmas” is for the haters. Mainly, though, “Falling for Christmas” is for moms who wouldn’t let their children watch “Mean Girls,” but now can’t get their kids to call them from college. Thus, they resort to texts such as “Hey, remember Lindsay Lohan?” to keep the family together. Thanks, “Falling for Christmas!”