Tis the season for soppy holiday movies. The Hallmark Channel’s rolling them out like glittery baubles, and apparently I’m the kid who can’t resist shiny things. A Royal Christmas is first in my endless Dish queue and marks a respectable, relative, start to the holidays. It brings zero originality to the buffet table, but there’s a prince, a commoner, Jane Seymour, and a snow-gilded palace. That’s enough to sate my appetite two weeks before Christmas Day.
It should be said that anyone who’s seen The Princess Diaries or read a fairy tale will know the exact trajectory of this film. Prince Leopold of Cordinia (Stephen Hagan) meets and falls in love with a tailor’s daughter (Lacey Chabert) while studying in the States. He neglects to tell her of his royal parentage, so she’s in for a shock when they spend Christmas at court. Leo’s mother (Jane Seymour) isn’t thrilled that her son’s bewitched by a pleb and rejects a match with a duchess, Natasha (Seymour’s daughter Katherine Flynn). She goes out of her way to make the holidays miserable for our poor American, and sympathetic hearts wonder if true love will prevail.
Of course it does. This is the Hallmark Channel, dammit. It’s cold outside, I’m wearing a wooly sweater and holding a mug of hot chocolate, and I want my heart to feel fuzzy. There is comfort in the familiar, which this story is, and the warm feelings are aided by the actors, who make their characters seem just so darn nice. There’s nothing offensive about Prince Leo or Emily Taylor of South Philadelphia.
Chabert acts her part well enough. Emily’s not a thrilling character, but she manages all the proper faux pas – overly vigorous handshaking, sipping from the finger bowl, chatting up her line of hoodies at a royal dinner. Plus, Chabert has the giddy look of a commoner who’s beside herself in a cliched Audrey Hepburn moment. Nor is Prince Leo the most dynamic royal, burdened as he is by normalcy. Seymour is the one who really chews the scenery as his biting ice queen mother. Still, I’m keeping my eyes on Lamda-trained Hagan, who has a puppy dog sincerity that’s perfect for these non-taxing roles.
The two leads don’t share sparkling chemistry, though they show themselves to be a decent couple, and this movie lives up, or down, to expectations with a hollow climax. The make-up and break-up are purely perfunctory, but for the price a prince proposing on bended knee in the snowy streets of Philly, I’ll take it.
Prod: Amy Krell
Dir: Alex Zamm
Writer: Janeen Damian, Michael Damian, Neil H. Dobrofsky, Tippi Dobrofsky
Cast: Lacey Chabert, Stephen Hagan, Jane Seymour, Katherine Flynn, Simon Dutton, Mitchell Mullen, Katrina Nare, Diana Dumitrescu, Vlad Ianus, Kate Loustau, Ionut Grama, Alice O’Mahoney
Time: 87 min
Country: United States