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Under the mistletoe: Some of the best Netflix holiday rom-coms to get you in the spirit of the season

By Megan Wilson, December 15 2021—

It’s December in Calgary. The sun is shining, final exams are an ominous presence waiting right around the corner and that means it’s time to procrastinate with the best type of movies imaginable — cheesy holiday rom-coms. Nothing hits quite like the story of a career woman returning to her hometown for Christmas only to rediscover the spirit of the season and eventually leave her big city lawyer boyfriend for a baker in a sweater. So, without further ado, here are five of the best Christmas rom-com movies that Netflix has to offer.

5. The Christmas Prince Trilogy

If you’re unfamiliar with the cinematic universe of Netflix holiday movies, this is definitely the place to start. Amber Moore, an ambitious NYC journalist, goes undercover and travels to the kingdom of Aldovia to get the scoop on the controversial Prince Richard, who is set to take the throne. Amber poses as a tutor to Princess Emily to get an in with the royal family and after a series of mishaps, finds herself unexpectedly enchanted by Aldovia and its royal family, particularly the Crown Prince.

This is a classic enemies-to-lovers story with all the cheesy goodness that only comes from rom-coms, complimented by the spice of an international scandal. The first movie in this trilogy is the best of the three but it’s worth watching the other two movies, which continue exploring Amber and Richard’s story.

4. Holiday in the Wild

This movie is a little bit of a different take on the classic holiday rom-com trope of the main character jet setting across the world. Here, newly divorced Kate Conrad finds herself traveling to Zambia over the holidays, working as a veterinarian on an elephant sanctuary and perhaps even developing feelings for Derek, a hunky pilot who also works at the sanctuary.

The scenery in this movie is beautiful and although the script is corny, Kristen Davis and Rob Lowe, who play Kate and Derek respectively, manage to make it work. While this movie is probably the least trope-y on the list, Kate and Derek’s dynamic is what truly pulls this movie into the holiday rom-com category. If you want a non-standard Christmas love story with light cheese and more of an actual plot, this is the movie for you.

3. The Princess Switch

If you haven’t seen The Princess Switch, then you haven’t fully experienced the magic of watching Vanessa Hudgens play two different characters in a film full of holiday-themed shenanigans. When Stacy DeNovo, a talented baker from Chicago, travels to the Kingdom of Belgrava for a baking competition, she discovers she is the doppelganger of Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro.

When the two women decide to switch lives right before Christmas and slowly begin to fall in love with men from the life of the person they are pretending to be, chaos inevitably ensues. This delightfully corny Princess and the Pauper-esque story is surprisingly engaging, especially if you follow up by watching The Princess Switch: Switched Again and The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star back-to-back. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself way too invested in the political drama of an entirely made-up European country.

2. Lovehard

Natalie Bauer is after something harder to find than a PS5 on Christmas Eve — an online date that doesn’t crash and burn spectacularly. However, after Natalie, who lives in LA, expands her match radius to include the entire continental US and matches with Josh, who lives in upstate New York, she thinks she might finally have found her ticket out of chronic singledom. That is until she travels to Josh’s small town to surprise him, only to discover he looks nothing like the dude on his profile.

To be perfectly clear, this is a movie about a girl who eventually falls for a guy who catfished her. I am aware that in real life, that’s a red flag so large you could fit all the Christmas presents in the world in it. However, holiday rom-coms exist in a world where every house on the block runs enough Christmas lights to have an electrical bill that looks like my student loans, so it isn’t exactly like real life. If you’re able to ignore that premise and embrace the romance, it’s quite a funny movie that is trying, in its own misguided way, to tell a story about the importance of being yourself when it comes to falling in love.

1. The Knight Before Christmas

Vanessa Hudgens has Netflix (and me) wrapped around her finger when it comes to Christmas movies. Here, she plays Brooke Winters, an Ohio school teacher recovering from a past heartbreak who accidentally bumps into Sir Cole Christopher Fredrick Lyons of Norwich, who has been hurled through time to complete his quest to become a true knight. The Knight Before Christmas doesn’t waste time trying to explain its plot of time travel or how a dude from the 1300s is seemingly fine digesting processed sugar, because that’s not the point of this movie. What matters is watching Brooke find true love with a literal knight in shining armour, just in time for Christmas.

I will say, if you want a movie where the metaphysics of time travel fully make sense, this isn’t the movie for you. But, as Vanessa Hudgens comes to learn, if you can just follow your heart and believe, you’re in for a great time. It is full of classic tropes, like the old “girl trips on ice and the guy catches her” or — my personal favourite — “believing in true love solving issues of distance across time and space.” If you need  a rom-com that is just the right amount of cheesy, this is the movie for you.

It is the absurd amount of cheesy writing and troupes that give holiday rom-coms supremacy in my heart. It’s therapeutic to spend an hour and a half in a world where all problems can be solved by following your dreams. Hopefully, there’s a movie here that you have a chance to curl up with this holiday season. Happy binge-watching!

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