Friday, December 6, 2019

'Tis the Season - A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)
Genre: Romance
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production/Distribution: Netflix
Director: John Schultz
Writer: Karen Schaler, Nate Atkins
Actors: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Kevin Shen, Momo Yeung, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, Richard Ashton, Raj Bajaj, Crystal Yu, Andy Lucas, Tahirah Sharif, John Guerrasio, Joel McVeagh, Madra Ihegborow, Billy Angel, Cristian Calara, Ioana Ilie, Nicolae Stoica, Shinji Ishigaki

Blurb from IMDb: It's Christmastime in Aldovia, and a royal baby is on the way. Amber and Richard host royals from a distant kingdom to renew a sacred truce, but when the treaty vanishes, peace is jeopardized and an ancient curse threatens their family.

Selina’s Point of View:
As a series, A Christmas Prince (2017-) is pretty much what one would expect from a Hallmark-style Christmas film. It’s corny and full of romantic tropes, but it leaves you with a good feeling and makes for decent background ambiance while the family is over.

I think it’s important to remember that, for the most part, Christmas rom-coms are meant to be good-natured stories that remind you of the magic of the holidays without making you think too hard. They’re meant to be on screen while you’re baking cookies, decorating the house, wrapping presents, or hanging out with loved ones. Most of them are just not going to be super deep. They’re just simple stories with either a light meaningful message or a happy ending or both.

In all those things, the Christmas Prince Netflix series succeeds. I gave the first two films a mediocre score. It would never be something I sought out, but not something I’d rush to turn off either.

With that said, this one took a strange left turn.

Let’s recap.

A Christmas Prince (2017) featured a journalist that got mistaken for a royal tutor and wound up falling in love with a prince known for shirking his duties. She changed him and he fell head over heels for her. It’s a fine story, but no one would ever accuse it of originality.

The second film, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018), just continued the story. The journalist accepted her prince’s hand in marriage and had to find a balance between what she wanted and what being a royal meant. We’ve seen it before. We’ve seen it done better.

Now, on to the third film.

It didn’t actually focus on the love between the main characters as much as I thought it would. There was no big conflict between them to resolve. They were strong throughout – which turned the focus to a different plot. It was about a stolen treaty that had to be found by midnight of Christmas Eve or war would break out between Aldovia and a neighboring kingdom and the baby of the two main characters would be cursed.

In one film, the series went from being all light-heart and romance to having threads of politics and the supernatural. It came out of nowhere, and there were aspects of it that I really couldn’t predict.

Granted, there was plenty of the corn and fluff one would expect from the series, but there was a much more interesting story under it all and that made it more fun to watch. I actually enjoyed A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby more than I thought I would. It wasn’t just watchable; it was something I’d consider actively seeking out.

No, it wasn’t a masterpiece. It was, however, fun and campy and interesting. It left me kind of hoping for a fourth.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was excited to see that there would be another movie to round out the Christmas Prince trilogy. The two prior movies were adorable and engaging – this new offering was no different.

Rose McIver (Once Upon A Time, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Brampton's Own) remained a natural and seemingly effortless fit as Queen Amber. I can’t find fault with any of the cast, really.

I quite enjoyed the elements of mystery and political intrigue that were woven into this film. While the theme didn’t delve quite to the Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express, Marple, Poirot) level, it did offer some relief from the more ordinary tale of ‘Cinderella has a baby.’

While I don’t necessarily see myself watching this trilogy every year during the Holiday Season, I can certainly guarantee that I will revisit these films in the future to enjoy the familiar warmth like a soothing cup of hot chocolate.

Anyone who enjoyed the first two movies will likely feel similarly about The Royal Baby.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

'Tis the Season - Tiny Christmas (2017)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Tiny Christmas (2017)
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Length: 66 minutes
Rating: TV-G
Production/Distribution: Two 4 the Money Media, MarVista Entertainment, Nickelodeon Network
Director: Jonathan A. Rosenbaum
Writers: Jamie Nash, Gregg Rossen, Brian Sawyer
Actors: Riele Downs, Lizzy Greene, Graeme McComb, Panou, Patricia Drake, Matty Finochio

Blurb from IMDb: When a clumsy elf accidentally shrinks two kids on Christmas Eve, they get scooped up into Santa's sack. When they are dropped off across the street, the tiny kids have to navigate holiday hazards to make it home safely.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I saw the descriptive blurb for Tiny Christmas, I envisioned that the movie would be a holiday-themed updated spin on something like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). I wasn’t entirely wrong, and yet I don’t feel like I was right either.

The Nickelodeon label gave me a slight clue about what I was in store for – a romp of silliness. The network is synonymous with children’s programming almost as much as the mouse house is. Though, a G rating is not always guaranteed. (Nickelodeon was the network, after all, that ran the original Ren & Stimpy (1991) which was entirely not suitable for children.) This movie, however, lands solidly in that safe-for-kids-of-all-ages zone.

There are breakpoints throughout the film that are expected from a made-for-TV program. They aren’t as smooth as I would generally hope them to be, but it wasn’t anything worth flipping tables over.

I think younger kids might get a kick out of the movie. It’s not one that I’d go out of my way to watch again. It is, however, a cute movie with a positive message.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score –  None
IMDB Score – 4.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
Movie Trailer: