Released: 10th November
Seen: 27th November
In 1998 the world was introduced to Lindsay Lohan in a little film called The Parent Trap, a film that would instantly turn her into one of the biggest child stars on the planet. She followed it up with the beloved 2003 Freaky Friday, then the cult classic, Mean Girls. That trilogy of films turned her into an absolute superstar, one who could carry a film just on her name alone which she did for a while until she fell into some serious personal problems that derailed her career severely, her last lead role being in The Canyons back in 2013. Fortunately, Lindsay seems to have gotten through her troubles stronger than ever and has returned to the screen with the Netflix Christmas romcom Falling for Christmas which might not be great, but it’s certainly charming enough and a reminder of just how special Lindsay is as a performer.
Falling for Christmas takes on the classic “Amnesia love story” tale, the kind that we’ve seen done spectacularly in things like the classic Overboard and also seen done abysmally in things like the Overboard remake. In this case, the amnesiac is hotel heiress Sierra Belmont (Lindsay Lohan) who was going on a skiing trip with her influencer boyfriend Tad (George Young) when the accident happened that caused Sierra to lose her memory. She ends up being found by Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet) who takes her into his own hotel, which is small and failing largely because everyone wants to go to the fancy hotel the Belmonts own, and decides to try and help her get her memory back. Naturally Jake and Sierra start falling for each other, there are assorted shenanigans going around, you know the drill by now.
It’s fitting to bring up both versions of Overboard when talking about Falling for Christmas because those two films provide us with a perfect way to measure the quality of this film, which falls almost squarely in the middle of the classic Overboard and the bullshit remake that still haunts the nightmares of anyone who dared sit through it. Falling For Christmas is charming enough, but there’s a chemistry imbalance going on here. It’s got a few chuckles, but few genuine belly laughs. It doesn’t push any boundaries of consent, but the romance feels almost tacked on purely because that’s how this story. It has its moments, but not enough of them for the film to be anything beyond a soothing “welcome back” to a beloved star.
The chemistry issue in Falling for Christmas is probably the biggest thing and to be honest it’s hard to tell whose side is the problem here, Lindsay, in general, feels out of place, not just because her character is meant to be an heiress who is literally not where she’s supposed to be, but she always feels at arm’s length from her co-star, but on the other hand while any fan of Glee knows that Chord can be charming and basically work with anyone, he just doesn’t seem to have that same connection here.
The two of them share scenes and looks that are meant to pull at your heartstrings and make you go “Oh they clearly should be together” but that doesn’t happen, we certainly know that Lindsay’s character’s original boyfriend, Tad. is a bad choice because they telegraph that with everything short of a neon sign that reads “NOT THIS ASSHOLE” but there’s nothing to say that Jake is a good choice for her either. We don’t even really know if she thinks of him in that way, at best it’s a nice friendship and there are moments that could be played up but it never hits there like it should.
However, even without the chemistry factor, the three lead actors are quite good. Lindsay reminds everyone why she was such a great comedic performer, the scene of her with a fitted sheet is the kind of physical comedy that she always has been quite good at and she has enough raw charm to make you stick around no matter what. It’s lovely to see Chord getting a chance to show off skills that Glee fans have known about, that boy-next-door sweetness and likability just exudes from his pores and since he has to handle being the straight man of the piece, he does it well. The one who seems to actually get that he’s in a silly Christmas romcom is George Young who plays Tad like the most stereotypical rich asshole you’ve ever met and is actually hilarious, if everyone matched his energy this would be a great film.
However, in order for everyone to match Tad’s energy the script would need to actually take advantage of the comic situations and let these actors have something fun to do. Give them some fun pratfalls or silly one-liners, anything so that they could actually get some kind of reaction from the audience but that isn’t just an “Oh that’s cute” every now and then. Maybe it doesn’t help that one of the writers has written well over a dozen Hallmark Christmas films over the last 6 years and has seemingly used up all their material because whatever’s here is just the absolute basics with none of the extra zest that can make it work. We’ve seen this idea work before and be fantastic, this has potential that it just refuses to realise.
It helps that Falling for Christmas isn’t exactly trying to be anything beyond just your average holiday film, a simple thing that’s there purely to give some slight Christmassy feels to an unsuspecting audience during the end of the year. It’s not going for anything other than just being a moderately cute little holiday film and it kind of achieves that. The sad thing is that you can see where it had the potential to be something bigger, maybe not an all-time great but certainly a lot more fun than is shown here. With this cast, it should’ve been easy to get a few laughs but they can only work with what’s been put on the page and it seems like nothing was actually handed to them that was useable. It’s not going to go down as a great film by any means, but it brought a genuinely great performer back and it’s not an entirely painful watch so at the very least it has that going for it. You could do worse, but you can absolutely do better.