It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Netflix!

It’s that time of year again! From “Holidate” to “Princess Switch: Switched Again,” get excited for the festivities that Netflix has in store for this year’s stay-at-home Christmas!

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Kaitlyn Chan

Netflix offers a variety of Christmas movies to watch over the holidays!

Is there any better way to begin the holiday season than by snuggling up on the couch with a hot chocolate at hand, and watching Netflix’s newest batch of Christmas movies? In this article, I’ll be reviewing four of Netflix’s newly released Christmas movies for 2020 — “Princess Switch: Switched Again,” “Operation Christmas Drop,” “Holidate,” and “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” — to give you my as well as other Bronx Science students’ takes on which movies are worth watching and which are not. 

Princess Switch: Switched Again

Another Christmas, another Princess Switch movie! Returning to the big screen is Vanessa Hudgens — also known as Netflix’s “Christmas Queen” — and this time, she’s taking it up a notch by playing not one, not two, but three characters! As can be told from the title, “Princess Switch: Switched Again” is the sequel to last year’s Christmas hit “Princess Switch.” This heartwarming, humorous movie tells a story about love and friendship, and let me tell you — it’s the perfect way to begin the holiday season. 

In this movie, we welcome back beloved characters Duchess Margaret of Montenaro, small-town-girl-turned-princess Stacy De Novo (now Princess Stacy of Bulgaria), Prince Edward (Princess Stacy’s love interest), Nick Sagar (Stacy’s best friend and Margaret’s love interest), and Olivia Sagar (Nick’s adorable matchmaker of a daughter). Taking place two years after the original film, Princess Stacy and Prince Edward are now happily married, whereas Duchess Margaret and Nick had broken up due to conflicting schedules. The old friends reunite during the holiday season for Margaret’s coronation, as upon the death of her father, she is set to become the queen of Montenaro. However, the festivities take a turn when Margaret’s manipulative and money-hungry cousin, Fiona -— who also bears an uncanny resemblance to Margaret and Stacy — makes a surprise appearance. 

When Margaret and Stacy switch places (once again!) to allow Margaret and Nick to spend time together and rekindle their romance, their plan catastrophically clashes with Fiona’s scheme to kidnap Margaret and take her place as queen. Consequently, we end up with a chaotic triple switch! 

Many Bronx Science students appeared to have positive reviews about the sequel. “For me personally, ‘Princess Switched: Switched Again’ was an immaculate Christmas movie. It was cheesy, but in the best way possible, and I felt so happy and carefree watching it. I’ve been really stressed out with remote learning and quarantine and the rising COVID-19 cases, but watching ‘Princess Switched: Switched Again’ with my family was such a fun experience,” said Karen Gao ’21. 

“I enjoyed ‘Princess Switch: Switched Again’ more than its predecessor film, ‘Princess Switch’,” said Karen Gao ’21. “Vanessa Hudgens’s versatility as an actress truly shone through in this movie, as she played all three characters fantastically.”

If you are looking for a movie that will leave you with those nostalgic, joyous Christmas feels to distract you from the difficult times that we are all currently going through, “Princess Switched: Switched Again” is a perfect choice. With extravagant Christmas decor left and right, beautiful snowy weather — perfect for those blissful snowball fights and snowman-making competitions — an array of festive dresses, and good friends to spend the holidays with, Montenaro is truly the place to be when in need of some holiday cheer. 

Operation Christmas Drop

What does Christmas look like to you? Most people imagine a sparkling blanket of snow covering the streets and sidewalks of a bustling neighborhood, or perhaps the chilly, wintery atmosphere that forces many to bundle themselves in heavy coats and thick scarves and hand-knit mittens. Tropical weather, typhoons, palm trees, sandy beaches, and snorkeling are not typically what come to mind when you think of the word “Christmas” — yet “Operation Christmas Drop” says otherwise. Taking place in the sunny Pacific island of Guam, where there is not even a bit of snow in sight, this unconventional Christmas movie sheds light on a real-life tradition: The Christmas Drop, the U.S’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation, in which the Air Force drops “Christmas presents” ranging from clothes to food to school supplies to Pacific islands in need. Despite the climatic discrepancy between “Operation Christmas Drop” and other classic holiday movies, this lighthearted film still manages to encapsulate the true meaning of Christmas — giving back, appreciating the little things, and spending time with loved ones. Needless to say, the spirit of holiday cheer is definitely still there.

In this film, actress Kat Graham plays the role of an uptight, promotion-seeking secretary named Erica who works for congresswoman Angie Bradford. Upon learning that the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is using its resources not for essential military action but for Operation Christmas Drop, Bradford, having been appointed head of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, sends Erica to the island over the holidays to observe, report, and find reasons to justify the base’s closure. When she arrives, she meets Andrew (played by actor Alexander Ludwig), an Air Force captain with a heart of gold who seeks to convince her that charity isn’t so bad after all and to show her what Christmas is truly about. Does he succeed? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!

With a meaningful message and a touch of romance, “Operation Christmas Drop” is yet another great movie choice for the holidays —  and many Bronx Science students think so too. “‘Operation Christmas Drop’ is hands-down the best Christmas movie Netflix has released in 2020. The fact that it took place on a tropical island made it so unique compared to other Christmas movies, and there was such an important lesson behind the storyline. I feel like so many people get caught up in the ‘receiving’ aspect of Christmas that they forget how significant it is to give back to the community during the holiday season. ‘Operation Christmas Drop’ made sure to convey this message for viewers,” said Sumaiya Rashid ’21.

“‘Operation Christmas Drop’ gets a 10/10 from me!” says Sumaiya Rashid ’21, “The movie not only highlighted the importance of giving back to the community during the holidays, but it also taught me a lot about Operation Christmas Drop, which I learned is an actual humanitarian mission that the U.S. Department of Defense annually conducts.”

Holidate

What is Christmas without a little rom-com to spice up the season? Starring Emma Roberts and John Whitsell, “Holidate” is yet another one of Netflix’s many mediocre holiday-themed romantic comedies. With depressing Christmas dinners and overwhelming familial pressures to find love, this movie doesn’t begin with much holiday cheer. 

In the film, Roberts plays the role of Sloane, a cynical, single, romance-hating millennial, who unsurprisingly, dreads the holiday season. Sick of her family constantly bringing up her dating life, or rather lack thereof, she miraculously stumbles upon Jackson, an Australian golf-pro who faces similar pressures to find love during this time of year. After their chance encounter at the mall, the duo bond over their dating troubles and shared hatred for the holidays before agreeing to be each other’s “holidate”  — a platonic, no-strings-attached agreement to be each other’s plus-one during holiday occasions. No commitment, no baggage, no expectations, and the chance to avoid the pressures and pitiful glances of being single on the holidays? Needless to say, it was a win-win bargain for both parties. Though only meant to last until New Years’ Eve, this “holidate” agreement ends up lasting for the rest of the year. From Valentine’s Day to St.Patrick’s Day, Easter to Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July to Labor Day, Halloween to Thanksgiving, their purely platonic relationship soon morphs into something more. Little did they know that a fake arrangement would ignite a real spark. 

My verdict on the movie? It was not the worst I have ever seen, but definitely not the best either. In my opinion, the plot was quite unoriginal and boring, and though there were certain bits of the movie that I found entertaining, most of the “humorous” banter wasn’t exactly humorous, but more so cringeworthy. With that being said, if you’re looking for a romantic comedy to watch, I personally do not believe this one is truly worth the time.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Pure magic. That’s how I would describe “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.” With an amazing soundtrack, incredible animations, beautiful costumes, spectacular dancing, phenomenal casting, and a unique plot, this musical fantasy is, in my opinion, the epitome of a perfect, family-friendly Christmas movie. In addition to the exhilarating holiday spirit that brings this movie and its characters to life, the power of imagination, innovation, creativity, curiosity, kindness, passion, and community is beautifully expressed throughout the storyline. “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” conveys such an inspiring and heartfelt message to its audience — both young and old — and immerses you in a world of endless, fascinating possibilities. Though the longest of the movies I have reviewed thus far, I can guarantee that by the end, you’ll find yourself wishing the journey wasn’t over. 

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” takes viewers on a whimsical adventure that begins one wintry night, when a grandmother tells the tale Jeronicus Jangle — a brilliant, once jolly toy-maker — to her two grandchildren. With a beautiful daughter, a loving wife, a successful toy store (called Jangle and Things), and happy customers who adore his creations, Jeronicus Jangle truly has it all. However, things take a devastating turn once he is betrayed by his apprentice, Gustafson, who steals his greatest invention, a mechanical bull-fighter, and his notebook of designs. Upon this betrayal, Jeronicus loses everything – his toy store (which becomes a pawnshop), his career, and his passion for invention and toy-making. He becomes isolated and depressed, and his relationship with his daughter, Jessica, is strained. After years of estrangement, Jeronicus is visited by his granddaughter, Journey (Jessica’s daughter), right before Christmas. He learns that she also has a gift for invention. Through Journey, Jeronicus endeavors on a journey of hope in which he reconnects with his daughter and rediscovers his love and passion for invention. 

Furthermore, watching a movie that stars a mainly Black cast and crew but does not tell a story centered around their being Black, but rather one that expresses a universal message of hope for all to appreciate, is incredibly refreshing. “We were unapologetic in the representation that we wanted, but it has nothing to do with any of that,” says writer and director David E. Talbert. “It has everything to do with humanity and the heart of these characters who happened to be Black—not Black characters who happened to have humanity.”

Talbert emphasizes that he hopes the movie will help spread holiday cheer and positivity in spite of all that is going on in the world right now. “The pandemic, the political shenanigans, the racial unrest, we’re right smack dab in the middle of all three. And if we ever needed something to remind us that there’s hope it’s this film,” Talbert says.

Watching “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” was an absolute delight, and many Bronx Science students agree. “I loved watching ‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’. It was such a feel-good Christmas movie and it filled me with a sense of warmth and nostalgia. I one-hundred-percent recommend it,” said Yanka Sikder ’21. 

“My favorite aspect of ‘Jingle Jangle: The Christmas Journey’ was definitely the music,” said Yanka Sikder ’21. “Not only did the cast have such astounding voices, but the songs were so beautifully composed and written. Thus, when I learned that John Legend was one of the film’s producers, I wasn’t very surprised considering how great the music was.”

However, regardless of the movies you choose to watch over the holiday season, all that truly matters during these festivities is remaining at home, staying safe, and spending time with family, friends, and loved ones — even if that means through Zoom or Facetime. Whether it is through watching Christmas movies on Netflix or baking Christmas cookies, wearing Christmas pajamas or decorating the Christmas tree, I hope that whatever you choose to do to celebrate this magical time of year will spread some much-needed holiday cheer amidst this year’s difficult and unprecedented circumstances.

“For me personally, ‘Princess Switched: Switched Again’ was an immaculate Christmas movie. It was cheesy, but in the best way possible, and I felt so happy and carefree watching it. I’ve been really stressed out with remote learning and quarantine and the rising COVID-19 cases, but watching ‘Princess Switched: Switched Again’ with my family was such a fun experience,” said Karen Gao ’21.

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