Following in the tradition of Notting Hill, where a big star and an ordinary person cross paths unexpectedly, comes Christmas with You. While not as star-studded as a Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant movie, or directed by maestro of mush Richard Curtis, Christmas with You holds up. More closely mimicking another Hugh Grant movie in Music and Lyrics, this charming and entertaining romcom is heartfelt and spirited as a pop star struggling with career burnout escapes to a small town only to find true inspiration and the love she never knew she needed.
Directed by Gabriela Tagliavini, this sweet Christmas music romcom stars Aimee Garcia, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Deja Monique Cruz. It’s good to see Prinze Jr. graduating to the next phase as a dad, retaining his breezy trademark charm. Top billed Aimee Garcia has star quality, channeling a sort of Jennifer Lopez vibration as referenced or confessed by a previous collaboration. Together these likable acts make magic, forming the warm core of Christmas with You, not just on the keyboard but with a skip in their step.
Picking up on a fan’s stirring video message and tribute, Angelina (Garcia) decides to make a house visit to a fan to stoke up social media in the wake of a snub and a few snide comments about her star power and relevance. Trying to deal with a complicated high profile celebrity romance, she escapes the city to land at the home of Cristina on the verge of her quinceañera. An unexpected spark with her music teacher dad, Miguel, kickstarts her creative juices in the hunt for an elusive Christmas hit.
“You had me at ‘can I borrow your reindeer antlers’…”
Christmas with You is lifted by its cast chemistry. While this comes through particularly well between its delightful co-leads in Garcia and Prinze Jr, they’re wonderfully supported by an earnest ensemble that carry the hope and goodwill of Christmas. The feel good story and Christmas miracle undertone may be well-worn as with many movies within the genre, but it’s this warm sense of predictability that adds to one’s satisfaction.
Composed of many sweet characters, the demands of a highflying celebrity lifestyle becomes the antagonistic force as a former glory pop star gets a chance to re-examine her life and priorities. While centred around the unexpected romance between a pop princess and a music teacher, Christmas with You also serves as a commentary on social media, ageism and our toast-of-the-day culture.
Embodying a cute and sweet-natured tone, this Christmas romcom plays it safe, steering back to mainstream to satisfy its audience with a “will they, won’t they” romantic tug-of-war with an inevitable outcome. A gentle, enjoyable and amusing entry into the genre, good chemistry, holiday spirit and heartfelt sincerity resonate in this grounded albeit predictable fairytale.
The bottom line: Sweet