REVIEW:”Christmas With You” fails to produce a feel-good film for holiday viewers


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“Christmas With You” delivers an underdeveloped plot and poor on-screen chemistry for viewers.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated and exciting traditions of the holiday season are Christmas movies. Whether audiences are looking for comedic relief through movies like “Home Alone” or more feel-good films like “The Polar Express,” Christmas movies are renowned for their ability to produce holiday joy from their audiences. Creating unique and entertaining cinema is a rarity, and not all Christmas movies are able to deliver as Netflix’s recently released “Christmas With You” has proved. “Christmas With You” may have the appeal of a feel-good and romantic comedy. The movie, however, is incredibly underwhelming, unappealing and unentertaining. 

“Christmas With You” follows the life of superstar Angelina Costa, played by Aimee Garcia, whose perfectionist mindset cannot grapple with her declining relevance as an artist. As younger generations of artists write and perform hit singles, Angelina is left rehashing her old songs due to her lack of songwriting inspiration. On the verge of being fired by her record label, Angelina has an option to write a hit Christmas single, or retire and abandon her desire to become a relevant musical figure. 

With her career on the line, Angelina stumbles upon an Instagram video featuring Christina, a devoted fan played by Deja Monique Cruz, and decides that the solution to her lack of inspiration is interacting with her fan base. She conveniently discovers the school Christina attends and meets Christina’s father, Miguel, played by Freddie Prinze Jr., who will serve as her love interest throughout the film. Due to poor weather conditions, Angelina and her assistant Monique, played by Zenzi Williams, are offered to stay at Miguel’s and Christina’s homes. Angelina accepts and discovers that Miguel composes songs in his free time, so she convinces him to collaborate together on her next single. 

While the plot of “Christmas With You” may appear entertaining, its numerous reliances on ubiquitous and embellished film tropes make the film a cheesy and bland regurgitation of well-crafted holiday films. The bad weather trope, for instance, is an unrealistic plot line. In no situation would a celebrity with A-class level stardom opt to stay at a stranger’s home without proper means of protection or guaranteed safety. 

The film’s reliance on unrealistic situations could be placated if the characters themselves had strong chemistry, but the romantic relationship fails to develop properly. While Angelina and Christina form a genuine friendship over losing their mothers, Angelina and Miguel bond only over songwriting. The emotional attachment Angelina develops with Miguel is puny and pathetic in comparison to her bond with Christina. Similarly, an odd power imbalance is present in Miguel’s and Angelina’s relationship, where he uproots aspects of his life to accommodate Angelina because of her status as a celebrity. Miguel does not appear to have any ability to stand up for his own interests. Ultimately, his inability to express himself makes him come across as uncharismatic and feeble-minded. 

While the lack of on-screen chemistry may be the fault of poor writing, the acting and cinematography contributed to the film’s inability to properly portray a budding romance. Garcia’s portrayal of Angelina, however, has an excellent on-screen presence. Her facial expressions, dancing abilities and body language make a dull character entertaining, but Prinze Jr. failed to enliven his character in the same manner. Prinze Jr.’s tone remained monotonous, and his facial expressions failed to give the impression of a love-stricken individual. His dull performance detracted from the film and contributed to his character’s bland personality. 

Alongside Prinze Jr.’s poorly represented character, the director’s choices in lighting and setting diminished the quality of the film. Scenes were overexposed and the background in certain parts were either full of blinding light or dull, with no comfortable middle ground. The design of the house made it feel unhomely, unlike the welcoming, cozy atmosphere most have in Christmas movies. 

“Christmas With You” may have an appealing plot, but it failed to deliver a festive and romantic comedy, particularly due to its lack of romance. It was difficult to finish, especially the corny ending scene, which takes place during Christina’s Quinceanera. The terrible choreography and passion-less dialogue presented in the closing scene poorly concludes the film. Holiday movies are undoubtedly a pleasure, but audiences will likely not find much entertainment in “Christmas With You.”