Scribbling Geek’s 2023 Netflix Christmas Movie Binge

Scribbling Geek's 2023 Netflix Christmas Movie Binge
Scribbling Geek's 2023 Netflix Christmas Movie Binge

Watching Netflix Christmas movies in December is nowadays a ritual for me.

For one reason or another, I wasn’t too keen on watching any Netflix Christmas movies this year.

Could be because I watched way too many in 2022; my list for last year mentioned ten movies but I actually watched close to twenty. Goodness, I was still watching in January! In other words, a classic case of extended aversion after overindulgence.

Or maybe it’s because, well, I’ve re-read some of my old media theory textbooks this year. As much as I loathe having Grinch-worthy thoughts, I agree with some writers that most Christmas and holiday movies, particularly those made for television, tend to present overly sweet, overly sentimental, overly idealistic interpretations of the world. Such worldviews, while festively delightful, just aren’t healthy to revel in. I mean, would you seriously give up a million-dollar career for some dude you just met in your grandma’s town? Some dude you’ve only known for a week and whose underwear you’ve not even seen? Come on!

… …… I’m well on my way to becoming a Grinch, aren’t I? (The 2018 movie is on Netflix, by the way) And that’s why I ultimately forced myself to at least watch a handful.

The following are my mini reviews for this year! Before I begin, yeah, yeah, I know. It’s weird for me to post this so late. I know Christmas is less than two hours away.

Consider it, hmm, my recommendation of what to watch if you don’t have plans for Dec 25 and you seriously don’t wish to leave the house. None of the six I’ve watched this year are blockbusters, to be honest, but none are downright awful too. (Thank goodness). Two could even be considered as delightful.

Watching a few could be a great way to spend Christmas 2023. It gets better if you have festive snacks to munch on while watching.

Family Switch | Netflix Comedy Movie

Family Switch

Synopsis: The Walker Family rediscovers their love for each other after a certain astronomical event results in a chaotic mass swapping of bodies.

Family Switch is full of lame jokes and uninspired gags, but it does come with one pleasant surprise.

While veteran actors like Ed Helms and Jennifer Garner struggle to depict young souls in adult bodies, and have to resort to truly tasteless tactics, young Brady Noon absolutely shines with the effortless way he segues from nerdy social outcast to cool teen, and back.

His performance isn’t enough to perk up the show, though, and one key reason is that the movie just isn’t very festive, despite having a major Christmas theme. I note that Family Switch is the only movie on this list that doesn’t, you know, have the word “Christmas” in its name, so perhaps it’s my fault for expecting it to be a holiday movie.

One other thing. If you hate fart jokes, you might wanna skip this one, or at least skip a certain middle chapter. Gotta say, I was so turned off during that act that I almost stopped the stream.

Snappy rating: 2/5.

Best Christmas Ever Movie Poster

Best. Christmas. Ever!

Synopsis: No thanks to a prank by her son, resentful Charlotte Sander ends up at the doorstep of the person she least wants to see for Christmas. Her ex-best friend, the ultra-successful Jackie Jennings.

I streamed this not because of Brandy but because of Jason Biggs. I shan’t elaborate beyond whispering, pie …

There’s no pie in Best. Christmas. Ever!, of course, and Biggs is surprisingly subdued, as well as convincing, as Heather Graham’s weary husband. As for Graham and Brandy, I’ll say both ladies handled their roles cordially and by that I mean they did what was necessary but there wasn’t any real magic.

Much of this has to do with the story, which is undecided from start to end on whether it wants to be a comedy, family drama, or tragic mystery. Everything does wrap up at the end but the feeling one gets is that it’s a stumbling journey. Like a not-so-pleasant trek across a snowfield.

Best watched only if you’re a big fan of one or more of the actors.

Snappy rating: 3/5.

Catering Christmas | Netflix Christmas Movie

Catering Christmas

Synopsis: Molly is invited to pitch for the catering of her town’s most prestigious Christmas gala. Things, however, get complicated with the involvement of a certain world-trekking photographer.

I watched Catering Christmas over two evenings and to be honest, I’m rather lost over what to say about it. And not just because I … wasn’t paying full attention most of the time.

It has a classic Christmas movie story about meeting the love of your life under the most unexpected circumstances, and all that. Daniel Lissing also plays the standard role of the globetrotter who decides to forgo the thrill and glamour of world adventures for the sake of family and love.

Everything is expectedly shiny and beautiful throughout the show too, even the kitchens are festively gorgeous. When you add up everything, the entire movie is one lovely postcard experience. The problem, though, the story just lacks a certain spark. It’s attractive enough to watch but it never fully engages too. One reason for this, IMO, is that despite the movie’s namesake, you don’t actually get to see a lot of sensational food shots.

The Summary: Not bad for a late-night festive watch. But don’t expect it to be memorable. Or to make you hungry.

Snappy rating: 3/5.

A Brush with Christmas Poster

A Brush with Christmas

Synopsis: Charlotte is livid when a painting she threw out is anonymously submitted to a Christmas art festival. But the mistake could be the start of a great romance if Charlotte could work through the life and career issues she battling.

Like Catering Christmas, this classic story of life and work decisions made complicated by love is all beautiful and festive throughout. However, it’s the Netflix Christmas movie that I least enjoyed this year.

That’s entirely because I just can’t resonate with the crisis involved. Now, if you’re familiar with holiday movies, especially the ones made for TV, you’d know that manufactured crisis is an oft-used plot device. Even bigger budget shows like A Castle for Christmas are guilty of it.

Everything is so romantic and so beautiful … Everything is going so smoothly and dreamily … Suddenly, one lead takes such GREAT offence over something and is so furious, he or she wants to call everything off. Even wants to go away forever.

To be clear, the so-called crisis in A Brush with Christmas isn’t entirely nonsensical. I suppose for some folks, it will resonate too.

But it didn’t work for me. Not at all. Sorry to say this. I fast-forwarded through most of the show, after rolling my eyes too much.

Snappy rating: 2/5.

Christmas at the Drive-In Poster

Christmas at the Drive-In

Synopsis: Property lawyer Sadie is horrified when the beloved drive-in of her town is under threat of being torn down and replaced by a factory. She goes all out to save the drive-in, with her opponent being none other than her boyfriend from two decades ago.

You can tell by my tone for the above four entries that I didn’t much enjoy all of them. So I was quite weary when I streamed Christmas at the Drive-In. To be honest, I was quite ready to fast-forward through most of it.

And yet, and yet, I ended up enjoying Christmas at the Drive-In; despite its distinctive “tv movie” flavour and in spite of its very predictable plot. Much of this has to do with sensibly written dialogue, humour that’s genuinely ticklish, and the sardonic Neal Bledsoe. How should I describe it? Bledsoe feels as if he knows that the whole save-the-town’s-beloved-icon-and-fall-in-love-while-at-it trope is so old and ridiculous but nonetheless, he’s willing to indulge in it for the sake of festive entertainment. And by doing so good-naturedly, he draws you into the fun too?

Snappy rating: 4/5.

A Merry Christmas Wish | Netflix Holiday Movie

A Merry Christmas Wish

Synopsis: Janie, a successful NYC branding executive, returns to her hometown to settle the affairs of her late great-uncle. There, she discovers to her great surprise that her great uncle has bequeathed her his farm, with the earnest request that she hosts one last Christmas “Winter Wonderland” fair before deciding what to do with the farm.

A Merry Christmas Wish is very, VERY similar in story and tone to Christmas at the Drive-In. Not just the whole save-the-town-icon trope, but also because both movies featured older leads.

Like Christmas at the Drive-In, A Merry Christmas Wish works too because of elegant scripting, sensible dialogue, and a dilemma that feels real. (Superb acting by Jill Wagner plays a large part too, of course) Janie’s dilemma over whether to retain her great-uncle’s farm or return to her city life might not be the most original movie idea this festive season but weaved into the story are various slices of real life that make the tale easy to sink into. Even if you’ve never stepped onto an American farm, I think you wouldn’t find it difficult to appreciate everyone’s love for the farm Janie suddenly finds herself in ownership of. You wouldn’t find it hard to empathise with Janie too.

The Summary: This was the best Netflix Christmas movie I watched this year. Goes to show that a familiar story, if properly retold, can still be magical.

Snappy rating: 4/5.

Check out my other snappy movie reviews.

Scribbling Geek’s 2023 Netflix Christmas Movie Binge
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Scribbling Geek’s 2023 Netflix Christmas Movie Binge
December is the time for festive yuletide celebrations and … nightly Netflix Christmas movie binges! Here are the ones I watched this year.

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