Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Netflix gives Hallmark a run for its money with this year's holiday movie lineup

Illustration for article titled Netflix gives Hallmark a run for its money with this year's holiday movie lineup
Image: Netflix

We’ve had just two weeks to enjoy spooky season, which means it’s finally appropriate to drop GIFs of that dancing pumpkin head dude on every social media platform. But here comes Netflix with its maternal insistence that we begin thinking about Christmas already. In recent years, Netflix has entered an extremely silly (and probably one-sided, to be honest) rivalry with Hallmark over which brand can deliver the most ridiculous holiday programming. And this year’s offerings are exceptionally cringe-inducing, but like, in a holly jolly way. Christmas may be two months out, but that’s exactly how long it’s going to take you to recover from the crying-laughing fit induced by reading the plot descriptions for Netflix’s holiday movies.


A fun challenge/self-own is seeing if you can make it through all of these plot descriptions without devolving into shrieks and sobs of laughter and/or collapsing in on yourself like a dying star. There is no reward. This is an exercise in humanity’s futile search for meaning in the uncaring void known as life. But also it’s hilarious.

First up is Holiday In The Wild, starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe, who may or may not have been illegally poached from Hallmark:

Available 11/1/19

Holiday in the Wild

To keep her spirits high when their son leaves for college, Manhattanite Kate Conrad (Kristin Davis) has booked a ‘second honeymoon’ with her husband. Instead of thanking her, he brings their relationship to a sudden end; jilted Kate proceeds to Africa for a solo safari. During a detour through Zambia, she helps her pilot, Derek Holliston (Rob Lowe), rescue an orphaned baby elephant. They nurse him back to health at a local elephant sanctuary, and Kate extends her stay through Christmastime. Far from the modern luxuries of home, Kate thrives amidst majestic animals and scenery. Her love for the new surroundings just might extend to the man who shared her journey.

The real journey is reading that synopsis, which goes from zero to elephant sanctuary in Zambia in two seconds flat. Next is Let It Snow, starring Kiernan Shipka and Jacob Batalon and some other famous people who aren’t too proud to accept a handout. As Netflix helpfully informs us, this one is based on a best-selling YA novel by John Green of The Fault In Our Stars fame. Which somber historical landmark will play host to an inappropriate teen make-out session this time around? Tune in to find out!

Available 11/8/19

Let it Snow

When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships and love lives colliding thanks to a stranded pop star, a stolen keg, a squad of competitive dancers, a mysterious woman covered in tin foil, and an epic party at the local Waffle Town. Come Christmas morning, nothing will be the same.

Ominous! The next one is called Klaus, and it’s Netflix’s first original animated feature. It’s also the holiday movie Most Likely To Not Suck, if this voice cast is any indication:

Available 11/15/19


When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva (Rashida Jones), and discovers Klaus (Oscar® winner J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care. An animated holiday comedy directed by Despicable Me co-creator Sergio Pablos, KLAUS co-stars Joan Cusack, Will Sasso and Norm Macdonald.


Potentially good movies are boring. NEXT. The Knight Before Christmas. See, it’s a play on words. It’s the night before Christmas but also it’s about a knight. You know you’re in for a wild ride when the synopsis begins with “After a magical sorceress...” Yes, do go on.

Available 11/21/19

The Knight Before Christmas  

After a magical sorceress transports medieval knight Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) to present-day Ohio during the holiday season, he befriends Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens), a clever and kind science teacher who’s been disillusioned by love. Brooke helps Sir Cole navigate the modern world and helps him discover how to fulfill his mysterious one true quest — the only act that will return him home. But as he and Brooke grow closer, Sir Cole begins to wonder just how much he wants to return to his old life. Directed by Monika Mitchell (THE CHRISTMAS CONTRACT, ROYAL NEW YEAR’S EVE) and also starring Emmanuelle Chriqui, Isabelle Franca, Ella Kenion, and Jean-Michel Le Gal, THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a cozy holiday romance about learning to let yourself believe in magic again.


“Cozy holiday romance” is a nauseating series of words. We’re in.

For those in the market for a Christmas movie with a gooey moral center, look no further than Holiday Rush, which has nothing to do with fast cars (sadly) and everything to do with the main character’s name (boring):

Available 11/28/19

Holiday Rush

Popular New York radio DJ Rush Williams (Romany Malco) has been spoiling his four children since they lost their mom. Unfortunately, the kids share their pricey Christmas lists right when he loses his job. To keep Rush on the air, his producer Roxy Richardson (Sonequa Martin-Green) and his Aunt Jo (Darlene Love) plan to help him buy another station — if the Williams family can downsize fast and embrace a simpler life. In this heartwarming film, a loving father reconnects with his children and opens his heart to love when they all learn that true joy comes from not what you have but who you have around you.


Great news, everyone: There’s a new Christmas Prince sequel! A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby is a deceptive title because while there is definitely an impending infant, this movie is about some weird shit, like a 600-year-old sacred truce with Asian royalty and an ancient curse. You know, for Christmas!

Available 12/5/19

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

It’s Christmastime in Aldovia, and a royal baby is on the way! Queen Amber (Rose McIver) and King Richard (Ben Lamb) are getting ready to take some time off to prepare for their first child’s arrival, but first they have to host King Tai (Kevin Shen) and Queen Ming (Momo Yeung) of Penglia to renew a 600-year-old sacred truce. But when the priceless treaty goes missing, peace is jeopardized and an ancient curse looms. Amber will have to figure out who the thief is before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, for the safety of her family and the kingdom. Director John Schultz (A CHRISTMAS PRINCE: THE ROYAL WEDDING) and screenwriter Nathan Atkins (A CHRISTMAS PRINCE, A CHRISTMAS PRINCE: THE ROYAL WEDDING) return for the third installment in the CHRISTMAS PRINCE series.


Oh, you thought we were done here? Dennis Quaid would like to have a word:

Available 11/28/19

Merry Happy Whatever

Set during the happy but hectic days before and after Christmas, Merry Happy Whatever follows Don Quinn (Dennis Quaid), a strong-willed patriarch from Philadelphia doing his best to balance the stress of the holidays with the demands of his close-knit but eclectic family — and his family doing their best to manage him. But when youngest daughter Emmy (Bridgit Mendler) arrives home from L.A. with a new boyfriend, struggling musician Matt (Brent Morin), Don’s belief that “there’s the Quinn way… and the wrong way” is put to the test. From Emmy Award-winning creator Tucker Cawley (Everybody Loves Raymond), Merry Happy Whatever is a hilarious and heartwarming comedy that proves while family may not come wrapped up in a neat little bow, it sometimes can still be the greatest gift.


In addition to all these cinematic gems, Netflix is also releasing new holiday-centric seasons of The Great British Baking Show, Nailed It!, and Sugar Rush. Thanks, Netflix Santa!