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It’s fair to say that Netflix Original romantic comedies can be a little hit or miss. I personally found The Kissing Booth to be a poorly made, ill-informed and misogynistic look on the romantic life of a teenage girl. Conversely, To All the Boys I Loved Before is a sweet, careful take on the melodramatic yet sincere intensity of romance as a sixteen-year-old. These both focus on a younger demographic, however, and although I wasn’t overly keen on their more grown-up rom com Set It Up, I appreciate its charm and simplicity. While new Christmas addition The Holiday Calendar does serve its purpose in providing light hearted holiday entertainment, it falls somewhere between the first two films mentioned in quality and won’t leave you with much to remember.
The premise, as many Christmas films seem to for some reason, has a supernatural twist. When determined photographer Abby is given an antique calendar by her widowed grandfather that appears to predict events in her love life, with both old friend Josh and new guy Ty. As she realises the power at her disposal, her career and relationships are both impacted, and leading her to reflect on her life so far and take charge. The plot device of the calendar, though visually appealing and nostalgic enough, does cause some issues with the progression of the film, as very little feels genuinely earned. Abby’s character is intended to be independent, career minded, and charismatic, but the inevitable passivity in how she goes through the film makes her romances and job progression come across as not due to her own efforts in either.
For all the flaws in the plot, though, at least the performances are enjoyably genuine. Kat Graham doesn’t indulge in the usual sentimentality present in this kind of movie – she’s quick, intelligent, and at least trying to come off as active in her own story, the last trait in particular being depressingly uncommon. Though a little generic, Ron Cephas Jones does bring a warmth to the grandfather role, when he could have easily just done the bare minimum to move the plot forward. As for the others, they do what they can with the sugary script, and do a decent job at making it easier to swallow.
Though it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people who put this on aren’t looking for anything mind-blowing, I can’t help but wish that more effort had been put into the visuals. Director Bradley Walsh doesn’t make them unappealing by any means, but with dull sets, simple shot-reverse-shot in most scenes, and the main calendar prop not having much intrigue in its design, you won’t come away from The Holiday Calendar with much of an imprint from it.
Compared to other Christmas films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Love Actually, Elf and The Snowman, it certainly doesn’t leave a lasting impression. So, if over the holidays in between essays you feel like putting on a fluffy Christmas story to give your mind a break, then The Holiday Calendar is the movie for you. If you want anything with more meat or charm, then it likely won’t be worth your time.