I have to give five stars to a movie that makes me goofy-smile while watching it, hands clapped to my cheeks, happily rocking in my chair. This did it for me, and it’s not exclusively because I’ve been in love with Aimee Garcia since she was on Lucifer.
This is a pretty standard Christmas romcom, so the tropes can really tell you what you need to know: heroine falls for the hero’s family, celebrity falls in love with small town guy, pop star collaborating with songwriter.
I always like to say how it’s about execution rather than idea, and the execution here just works for me on all the levels. This is a very standard Christmas romance done simply and competently, in the best possible way.
The director (who is a woman!) Gabriela Tagliavini did a beautiful, emotional, heartfelt job making this movie. The casting is all on-point. Lots of great performances. Lovely music. Warm, pretty cinematography. Open adoration for Latino culture. The story checks every single box I want checked in a Christmas romcom superlatively.
Heck: even the Gen Zers are given fantasy fulfillment in this one. A 14-going-on-15 year old girl precipitates the meet cute between our H&h when the pop star notices Kiddo’s TikTok cover of her song. I love it.
Heroine Aimee Garcia’s performance admittedly carries the movie. She’s so open and charismatic and you can see her character’s thoughts all over her face. This girl is *working*. The fact I feel Freddie Prinze Jr doesn’t meet her level is, I think, because he’s actually just playing the meek smalltown single Daddy so well. He sorta provided a more “real” performance in She’s All That relative to the stylized approach of the movie too; the more grounded approach here just kinda got a little outshined by all the pink sparklies and the pop star (as you would expect). They don’t have especially hot chemistry, but they are very warm and friendly, and I find that to be wholly appropriate for the holiday genre.
I don’t really have anything to analyze here; this is exactly the kind of thing that lets me turn off and just relax and enjoy myself all the way.
Fun fact: Aimee Garcia is a vampire. Freddie Prinze Jr is 47, and he looks about 47. I assumed this was a weird unremarked-upon age gap romance because Aimee Garcia surely had to be twenty years his junior. Nope! The woman is 45 years old. Since goddamn when? Twenty years from now? Can you believe I got through 400 words of review without talking about her ass in those leather pants? Wait, shit. Goddammit.
(image credit: Netflix)