Falling for Christmas has a whisper of a moment where I thought it would be a self-aware farce, but then it quickly descends into much more maudlin territory with rice paper thin characters, lead actors with less chemistry than a soggy newspaper, mostly half-assed performances, and one incredibly creepy Santa. That said, it does follow all the rules for a middling Christmas rom-com, which could lull you into at least some warmish thoughts about the goodness of humanity.
Sierra Belmont (Lindsay Lohan, who, yes, yes…comeback and blah, blah, blah) is heir to the Belmont hotel fortune, but she’s not sure what she wants to do about it. Her father, Beauregard Belmont (Jack Wagner), has flown her to his über fancy ski resort for Christmas and set her up with a job as Vice President of Atmosphere, which she’s sure is just made up to give her something to do. As her boyfriend and Social Media Influencer, Tad Fairchild (George Young), is being ferried to the resort in the back of a stretch SUV limo, she complains to him that she wants to make “her own mark in the world” and not be seen as a spoiled child. Ironically, hotel staff are spooning caviar into her mouth and holding a champagne flute to her lips as she speaks these words. Tad is annoyed by her emotions, but offers to help her by finally going public with their relationship, which will boost her Socials. What a mensch! He’s a keeper for sure! (I also like how the names sound like they were made up by six-year-old me, just grasping at ideas of fancypants rich people names.)
Meanwhile, humble and thoughtful Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet) from the North Star Lodge (this is a terrible name) is asking Beauregard Belmont if he’ll invest in his homely family resort, which Beauregard politely declines for nebulous reasons. Beauregard is definitely not the villain in this movie, and I guess to prove it he offers Jake a free hot chocolate as a parting gift. Absolutely bizarre writing choices all around! But it kind of works while you’re watching it? Then, Jake and Sierra literally collide in the lobby where he spills his hot chocolate on her designer outfit and is quickly and huffily escorted out of the resort. Aside from establishing the glaringly obvious fact that Sierra and Jake are from totally different worlds and that these two humans have the chemistry of an overcooked noodle floating in a muddy puddle, this scene is a total throw away, because, as we’ll soon see, neither of them really remember meeting.
Beauregard (whose name I have, admittedly, been copying and pasting because it’s as hard to spell as bureau) has a very awkward lunch with Tad and Sierra. It’s awkward because Tad is a dipshit and Beauregard knows it, but Tad doesn’t and Sierra isn’t ready to admit it. (Please do not be fooled by Tad’s character. George Young is in possession of Genetically Blessed Face. Go ye and image search it up.)
Next we learn some things that are vital to any Christmas rom-com: 1. Jake’s lodge has fallen on such tough times that unless a miracle occurs it will have to close. Gasp! 2. Jake is the widowed father of a very cute and kind daughter named Avy (Olivia Perez), whom he loves very much and has been selflessly putting his own needs aside for since her mother died. (Please remember a widowed dad is the only kind of dad that matters in this kind of movie.) 3. Sierra’s mother also died many years ago and she doesn’t really remember her, but her own father made a promise that he would always take care of Sierra. Therefore, Sierra feels like she cannot say no to the made-up job and Beauregard feels like he cannot tell her to ditch Tad. 4. While out with her grandmother (Alejandra Flores), who is the only character (aside from the horse and Avy) that matters in this movie, Avy makes a Christmas wish and a man with a white beard (William ‘Bus’ Riley) who looks a heck of a lot like Santa sees her and chuckles and winks and then some whooshing wind happens that carries her wish away and maybe causes all the chaos that ensues. In which case Santa is maybe kinda more like a meddlesome god, and I have a lot of questions.
Anytoots, Tad takes Sierra off on a faux skiing trip that is strictly for posting on Instagram. There is a whole thing about Sierra singing along to “Jingle Bell Rock,” which is a Mean Girls reference and also a reference to Tad being a twit and also a reference to Lindsay Lohan singing. This movie contains multitudes! They drive to some remote location where they lose cell reception, so Tad decides to wing it with the directions. Only the best decisions for Tad. There’s an actually funny part where Tad has no idea how to get the snowmobile off the trailer and Sierra reminds him that she doesn’t really know how to ski. (We’re still in the part of the movie where it could be self-aware.) While they’re posing for pictures in front of the WORST green screen (I love it), Tad proposes with a giant diamond ring—that’s actually modest by some real heiress or celebrity standards. Then a big wind that Creepy Santa may have caused kicks up and blows them both off the side of the mountain (you read that right), and this movie also goes downhill with it.
Sierra ends up next to a tree where Jake finds her and takes her to the hospital where she’s mostly okay (because this is pure fantasy) except she can’t remember who she is, and she also has the worst depiction of gauze wrapped around someone’s head I think I have ever seen in a movie. Seriously, Fisher Price medical kits do a better job than this. Jake doesn’t remember who she is either, so really I have no idea why they bumped into each other at the resort. It was so utterly pointless that it’s distracting. Meanwhile, Tad ends up hanging out with an outdoorsman named Ralph (Sean Dillingham) and his comedic value goes off a cliff. (Most of those scenes should have been cut.) Sierra is still hoity and toity enough that the doctor (Blythe Howard) at the hospital doesn’t want her to stay there, but kind old Jake says she can come back to the lodge with him. Why? Who the fuck knows! Sierra doesn’t think this is a good plan, but she does it anyway because the hospital food is icky. (I kid you not.) Back at the lodge she’s offended that she has to wear clothing from the lost and found and further offended that her room is cozy? Obviously, she initially fails at every mundane task assigned to her, including putting on a fitted sheet, BUT she also starts to bond with Avy and the grandmother, so we all know that things are going to end up a-okay and that she’s actually good hearted. Phew. Meanwhile, no one is looking for her because her father is away and everyone else assumes she’s off galavanting with Tad, so she thinks she’s unloved, which almost makes sense.
I’m guessing you can plot out point by point where things with Sierra and Jake and Avy and the once ill-fated North Star Lodge are headed from here, including how Sierra has an encounter with an animal and ends up screaming and falling over a chair. (And yes, because this is a Netflix movie it will reference other Netflix Christmas movies.) But surprises are most certainly not the point of this movie. Chemistry could be the point of this movie, but Lindsay Lohan and Chord Overstreet don’t really have any of that, so you’re going to need to lean into the other aspects like the cute child, the actually warm grandmother, and the way Sierra learns her own value (I guess). Also, the characters are underbaked and mushy. They could have used more time in the oven to firm up sharper around the edges. For example, Jake is supposed to be someone who has done so much to have helped the community, but the most they can come up with is that he taught someone to ski and pulled someone out of a snowbank. Blah. I mean, these things are fine, but if I’m going to believe these people are falling in love and deciding to upheave their entire lives after ONLY FOUR DAYS TOGETHER while being as charismatic as a couple of wooden nutcracker dolls?!? I’d like to be wowed by more heroic acts, please! (Did I still get mildly teary-eyed in the climactic scene? Probably.) Personally, I could also do without the emphasis on how much Jake needs someone to complete him, but this is a perennial problem for me and Christmas rom-coms. A lot of the acting in the movie—specifically that done by Overstreet and Lohan—is in the meh range, which is to be expected, but none of it is SO bad that it actually sets your teeth on edge, and quite frankly I think that’s a win for everyone. They mostly look bored or like they want to be elsewhere, which I often did too, so I can’t blame them. Finally, keep an eye out for the Big Kiss (assuming you make it that far), which is partially obscured by a sun flare because it’s actually LINDSAY LOHAN’S STAND IN KISSING CHORD OVERSTREET. Sorry for yelling, but I really think that bait and switch is the perfect summation of this movie. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to purge my brain of all memories of Creepy Santa before I ever sleep again.
Oh. My. God. I forgot to tell you about the horse named Balthazar (Uncredited). There is a horse named Balthazar and he does not suck, but I bet he was quietly judging this movie so hard. I, however, will not judge you for watching—or even enjoying—this movie. Let the YuleTubing season begin!!