Sue me, it’s sweet. Netflix’s 2019 drunken shout into the void to say “listen up chucklefucks it’s Christmas time,” Let It Snow, following four interconnected stories of high schoolers trying to navigate love and the future on Christmas Eve in a small town, is the sort of movie that ends with Joan Cusack’s narration saying the title of the movie as the credits roll. By design, it’s disposable fluff, made for people to watch together and smile as they project their own lives on to it, or at least tide audiences over until the next bonkers Vanessa Hudgens-led film graces the platform (it’s called The Knight Before Christmas, it looks insane, and I can’t wait).
Starring a cast of young actors too good for this material but not yet established enough for real movies, including Isabela Merced (Instant Family), Shameik Moore (Dope), Kiernan Shipka (The Silence), Liv Hewson (Santa Clarita Diet), Odeya Rush (The Giver), and Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming), the film wisely takes a cue from the stitched-together collection of stories its adapted from, never lingering too long on one plot line or theme out of fear that its fickle streaming-savvy audiences will turn away. It’s a movie that bounces around out of sheer insecurity, saying nothing substantial about fame, sexuality, love, or maturity, the four themes that the stories seem to want to be about. And this scattershot nature to storytelling, like an adolescent Love Actually, is the biggest weakness that the film has, priming it to a life among the other forgettable easy-viewing films that show up next to it on the Netflix search tab. There’s little separating this one from any of the others, and if you’re the sort of person who likes these films unironically, I can’t say anything to push you in either direction on Let It Snow, because you’re surer of yourself than I ever will be, and I envy you.
However, if you don’t usually enjoy these films outside of laughing at them, and you’re having a bad day…it might just be the sort of charming diversion you need. For a romantic comedy, it isn’t particularly funny, but outside of a few moments, it’s never not charming, with the less-than-charming moments that awkwardly further the plot usually sandwiched between a meet-cute or some half-hearted platitude about the importance of Christmas coming from Joan Cusack in a tin foil hat.
Yes, it’s magnificently stupid, and as I type this, I can’t believe that I actually enjoyed it, but the spell worked on me. I may have watched it alone in a dorm room at 3 AM, but I did project enough of my own life onto the movie to connect with it and smile, so I think both the film and I will accept this compromise against the ideal viewing conditions. Merced and Moore’s storyline is a particular highlight of the film, and the only of the four stories to never falter in its unwavering niceness, with Merced continuing to prove that she has what it takes to be a real actress, and Moore doing his best “I’m sad in a John Green movie” that it goes from annoying to endearing and back again a few times, before settling just far enough into endearing to work.
C+ Review 2019 C+ christmas dope instant family isabela merced jacob batalon joan cusack john green kiernan shipka last christmas let it snow liv hewson love actually luke snellin odeya rush santa clarita diet shameik moore spider-man: homecoming the giver the knight before christmas the silence vanessa hudgens