Film Review – A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)
A Christmas Prince was a hot favorite from Netflix last year, not because it was a good movie, but mainly for the cheesy feel-good type of way it conducted itself. I was very much on the fence about the movie. The romantic chemistry between the Prince and Amber is only so-so, and the narrative doesn’t exactly give the brain much exercise. But I rarely quit a series once I start it, so I thought I would take one for the team by reviewing the sequel. Now I wish I hadn’t taken on such a martyr-task, because that is an hour and a half of my life I will never get back.
It’s not that it is abysmal. The movie is watchable, it’s just that it doesn’t do anything new to distinguish itself from the similar movies that came before it. I found myself cringing and rolling my eyes a couple of times, wondering who on earth thought it would be a good idea to include certain elements in the movie. The Princess Switch actually does a better job in selling me the whole Prince/regular girl trope. I would not recommend A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, and wish I could just stop here, but alas, I need to elaborate further on this travesty of a movie. So buckle up, we’re in for a long rant-filled ride.
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: John Schultz
Written By: Nate Atkins and Karen Schaler (based on characters created by)
Starring: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Sarah Douglas, Raj Bajaj, Theo Devaney, John Guerrasio, Andy Lucas and Simon Dutton
A year after they first met, Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb) are excited to get married, and spend the rest of their lives together. However, it seems that the wedding is less about the two of them, and more about the image they exude as a royal couple. Amber feels the strain of consistently being under the spotlight and her every action heavily scrutinized, while Richard is facing problems of his own due to failing policies he put into place. As they try to navigate these rising obstacles, Amber wonders if she is ready to give up her normal life for a royal one, and whether love can really solve everything.
It would seem that the real life romance between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) is such the stuff of dreams that all these Netflix movies are using the couple as inspiration. This was the case for The Princess Switch, where a regular American girl marries a Prince. We see the same story unfolding in this movie as well, with Amber possessing other similar qualities to Markle, an example being her writing for a blog, which Markle used to do as well.
Markle’s blog, called “The Tig”, is no longer active. This could be that marrying into royalty has probably left her with very little time to maintain the blog and churn out content, but one does wonder if having a blog might not be in keeping with the royal image, causing Markle to shut it down. She closed her social media accounts as well, portraying a similar lack of social media activity as members of the royal family. The inspiration for the title of the blog is a shortened version of Markle’s favorite wine Tignanello. When she tasted the wine for the first time, she finally understood what people meant when they raved about wine. In other words, she had a ‘Tig’ moment, so the title of the blog was born.
Amber is not as creative as Markle unfortunately, with her blog bearing the title of “Amber’s Blog”. Come on writers! Couldn’t you have come up with a better name? How about “Between Here and Aldovia”? I might be biased, but I think that title is miles better than “Amber’s Blog”. To put it simply and succinctly, hire me Netflix!
As I was watching the movie, I wondered if there were any characters in movie history that I have hated more than Mrs. Averill (Sarah Douglas) and Sahil (Raj Bajaj). Mrs. Averill does fine in the first movie. She isn’t exactly our favorite person in the palace, but she isn’t there enough for me to loathe her. She has a more fleshed out role in the sequel (in charge of press and media), which has been detrimental to the character.
The character is so overbearing, in a way that makes absolutely no sense. Yes, a Royal must keep up a certain image to the media, but she takes her job so seriously it is verging on lunacy. We also know both the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex (Kate Middleston and Meghan Markle) were heavily involved in the design of their wedding gowns and their wedding plans. Hence, it makes Mrs. Averill seem like she just wants to exert her authority over Amber, whom she has never really quite taken to.
The runner-up (or tie, I can’t quite decide) for the most annoying person in the movie goes to Sahil, the dramatic and over-the-top wedding planner. He has an exaggerated Indian accent, dresses consistently in Indian attire (as a means to exoticize), and functions as a caricature. The movie is obviously going for the usual trope of flamboyant wedding planner, and I would be fine with it, if the outcome was humorous in any way. I would take Martin Short’s character in Father of the Bride over Sahil any day of the week.
What the first movie had going for it is the romance. The Prince is this enigmatic man, who allowed Amber to peel back the layers to reveal who he truly is. We see him go from a scared boy, afraid of taking the crown because he didn’t think he could live up to the expectations, to a man who fights to be King. Amber proves her integrity by offering a story that protects Edward’s interests, choosing him instead of the story. It is not the strongest romance that ever existed, but it is there.
The romance barely exists in this one. The King is busy running his Kingdom into the ground, with policies that seem to be making things worse instead of better. He declines Amber’s offer of help, telling her that her time is better spent planning the wedding. In other words, run along to your wifely duties. I don’t doubt that monarchies are still highly patriarchal, but the King of Aldovia is supposedly a more modern type of man. Would it be so difficult to sound things out with your wife-to-be? After all, she was smart enough to figure out his father’s poem riddle that got him his Kingship in the first place.
I get that the movie is trying to introduce these complications in their relationship, because that’s how romantic movies work. The couple needs to work through these issues in order to get their happily ever after. But there at least needs to be something that reminds us of why these two are even together in the first place. Their coupling is chaste and utterly vanilla — would it be too much to ask for at least some passionate kissing? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) have more chemistry in their pinky fingers than these two have together for the whole movie.
A Decent Supporting Cast
I think it says a lot when I am more invested in Princess Emily’s (Honor Kneafsey) burgeoning romance than with the main romance plot. Emily continues to grow as a character. She is intelligent and witty, not allowing her medical condition to limit what she can do. In addition to dosing out good advice to her idiot brother, she plays an integral role in the discovery of what is causing Aldovia’s economy to take a nose-dive. There is this poshness to her demeanor that reminds you of her royal roots, yet she also conducts herself with warmth to those around her. She is truly the Queen that Aldovia needs. If the King has any sense, he would change the laws and withdraw from the role once his sister becomes old enough to rule.
Theo Devaney as Simon returns in the sequel, adding much-needed levity to the surroundings. I found him entertaining in the first movie, and he does a decent job here as well, though there isn’t enough meat to his role to accomplish much.
The ending moments of the movie very clearly sets up the possibility of a third movie. These movies basically just write themselves. The thing is, they wouldn’t need to break the bank to improve these type of romance movies, it just needs better writing and more creativity. Romance movies are predictable by nature, but that rarely matters if the movie gives me a journey worth experiencing along the way. I know you can do better Netflix — don’t settle for far below mediocre when average exists but a few inches away.
Thank you for reading! What do you think about A Christmas Prince: Royal Wedding? Comment down below!
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