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February 4, 2023

Falling for Christmas: an unsatisfying show of shallow sweetness

By ALICIA GUEVARA | November 28, 2022

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ESVIAFM / CC BY-SA 4.0

Guevara reviews Netflix’s Falling for Christmas, starring Lindsay Lohan.

I really wanted to like Falling for Christmas, Netflix’s latest romantic comedy starring Lindsay Lohan. As a fan of Lohan’s nostalgic Mean Girls and Freaky Friday, I was looking forward to seeing her light up the screen in another major film. Since its release on Nov. 10, the film has consistently been featured in Netflix’s top 10 list despite its lackluster reviews from critics.

Unfortunately, the film is for the most part underwhelming and as cheesy and unoriginal as its title. Its plot feels simultaneously overdone and bizarrely specific. Sierra Belmont (Lohan), a rich, spoiled heiress to a skiing empire, is about to get engaged to her over-the-top influencer boyfriend Tad (George Young) when she falls off a cliff, loses her memory and ends up at a smaller ski resort owned by Jake (Chord Overstreet).

It's a strange combination of the 1987 comedy Overboard and a Hallmark Christmas special that the script and characters can’t quite pull off. The storyline itself tiptoes around more serious topics like loss, existentialism and a sense of self-worth, but for the most part, they remain hidden behind a thick, cloying mask of bubbly cheer.

The love story, the most prominent story arc in the film, falls victim to the sappiest, most cliche tropes imaginable. The catalytic meet-cute makes an appearance when Jake spills orange juice all over Sierra’s outfit. Sierra has a makeover and walks down a staircase to Jake’s living-heart-eye-emoji awe in She’s All That fashion. Jake rescues Sierra skiing, and they tumble to the ground and stare into each other’s eyes. There is a dramatic chase scene at the end.

Even with the aid of all of these tired and worn-out techniques, the film cannot manage to muster a single spark of chemistry between Sierra and Jake. In almost every scene, the characters awkwardly hover around each other, trying to make up for their mediocre dialogue with effusive smiling and intense eye contact. There is no moment in this film where I feel a pull between these characters or root for them to get together.

This is compounded by the fact that Sierra has a fiance while all of this is going on, which is so problematic. Yes, Tad is quirky and always live-streaming or posting on social media, but he is never mean or malicious. He is never intentionally cold or cruel. Even though we’re meant to be cheering on Sierra and her new relationship, the whole time it feels wrong.

Sierra’s character also came off as very dislikable to me. I know that it is intentional that she can’t do anything for herself, like make her bed or do her laundry, but it got to the point where her ineptitude was no longer charming but inane. She should at least be able to carry a pile of firewood into the house without slipping and dropping it everywhere. Her one triumph is organizing a party, which feels shallow. I craved something more from her.

Jake is also unsatisfyingly two-dimensional. He is your standard Hallmark male protagonist: a widowed, unrealistically altruistic father and small business owner. I’m usually all for a protagonist who is nice and not toxic, but he doesn’t feel genuine. He comes across more like a checklist of charming traits formulated to appeal to women rather than a real person.

There are a couple moments, however, when Lohan and Overstreet’s emotive ability shines through. While sparse and fleeting, I did latch onto them while I was watching and was pleasantly surprised by their presence in the film. I was particularly moved by Lohan’s tearful expression of her character’s uselessness, which felt really genuine.

While the film is flawed, it’s cute in the way that you never have any doubt while watching that this story is going to work out and end happily. There is never any suspense about whether Sierra and Jake will get together or whether they’ll manage to save Jake’s struggling ski lodge, and there was something almost comforting about that. It doesn’t take itself too seriously or take itself to be more than ninety minutes of sugary sweetness. However, if you’re craving a movie for the holidays, I’d recommend skipping this one.


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