If you had “amnesia as inexplicable plot device”, “wealthy yet directionless heiress”, “overly precocious child” and “cringey influencer-speak penned by scriptwriter who doesn’t know what social media is” on your Netflix Christmas movie bingo card then congratulations, because Falling for Christmas will get you a full (gingerbread) house.
While streaming platforms' Christmas movies exist in their own cinematic bubble, and it’s unfair to compare them to other genres, it’s not beyond the realms of viewer expectation that they still feature the kind of things that make a film a film. Things like acting and a comprehensive plot.
Bearing in mind the absence of these two components, Lindsay Lohan’s comeback movie (part of a two-picture deal she has inked with Netflix) is easily already jostling for the position of Worst Festive Film of 2022.
Lohan plays heiress Sierra Belmont, scion to her father Beauregard’s (Jack Warner) hotel empire whom daddy is dead set on appointing as his vice president of atmosphere. And in this post-vertical, social media upstart disruptor, fake-sounding title landscape … sure, why not?
However, although Sierra is a woman who is woken each morning by a host of flunkeys wheeling in trolleys of caviar and Champagne, along with rails of designer clothes selected by her personal stylist Bianca (played by Lohan’s real-life sister, Aliana), she knows as much as we do that that’s an arbitrary title and she has so much more to give, dang it.
Slow-moing through the lobby of daddy’s high-end ski resort, Sierra collides with Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet), who is fresh from chasing her father down the slopes in a bid to get Beauregard to invest in his struggling ski lodge — a hitherto little-used business investor approach that LinkedIn enthusiasts might want to look into.
He spills his hot chocolate down Sierra’s red “Valenyagi” jumpsuit causing her British influencer boyfriend Tad (George Young) to have a style aneurysm in case it ruins their “ussies” (apparent plural of “selfies”). It’s important to note here that Jake and Sierra meet one another in a way that would not be easily forgotten.
When Tad’s mountaintop proposal goes awry both he and Sierra end up tumbling down opposite sides of the peak to great cheers of relief because it means no more hearing Tad shriek “trending!” every time one of his mediocre posts gets a like.
Tad then disappears (not mysteriously so, just because he's not part of the plot anymore) and Jake chances upon an unconscious Sierra. Despite her being decked head-to-toe in neon pink and, more importantly, despite having split hot chocolate down her “Valenyagi” less than 24 hours prior, Jake completely fails to recognise her. Plot twist!
“But who is she?” Jake, the local sheriff and the nurse at the local hospital ask one another of the red-headed only daughter of the local town’s wealthy hotel tycoon.
It matters not, because rather than keep her in for observation owing to the concussion she clearly has and her resulting amnesia, Sierra is sent home with Jake. A man who, let us not forget, is a complete and utter stranger to her.
Ensconced at Jake’s North Star Lodge, Sierra meets his plucky, precocious daughter Avy (Olivia Perez) who smiles constantly and who Jake speaks to as though their every interaction is the first time he has ever met her. Also in residence is Jake’s mother-in-law Alejandra (Alejandra Carlisle), who is there to tick the “kind, wise old woman trope” on your bingo card. Alejandra informs Sierra that Jake’s wife died two years ago and that his business is in trouble.
Sierra is quickly put to work in a rich-girl-tries-to-do-things-poor-people-do-every-day montage, such as make beds and pour detergent into the machine. All of which she messes up in ways that are meant to be adorable, but which will have boomers rolling their eyes and muttering darkly about millennials. She also cracks eggs into the frying pan in the manner of a six-month-old orangutan.
During all of this Sierra and Jake apparently fall in love, although you wouldn’t know it from watching them together. Overstreet has more chemistry with his horse, Balthazar, and Lohan is so busy enunciating the script from memory that she forgets to actually act it, too. Their passion makes a Mariah Carey dance routine look energetic.
For the third act crescendo It’s a Wonderful Life is channelled so badly guardian angel Clarence must be handing back his wings. Sierra and Jake host a last-minute Christmas Eve party that everyone in the town attends even though most people make their Christmas Eve plans way in advance, and still, no one recognises Sierra.
I won’t ruin the ending for you. The film semaphores every scene so far in advance you’d have to be someone who doesn’t know how to put a bottom sheet on a bed to not know where all this is going.
Christmas films should be judged in their own bubble and, quite frankly, Amber’s “journalistic” musings from A Christmas Prince, Vanessa Hudgens’ British accent in The Princess Switch and Brooke Shields buying a castle as a plot device in A Castle for Christmas are far more worth your while.
Falling For Christmas is available for streaming on Netflix