Let's overanalyze royalty-themed Christmas movies!
Sunday night, Lifetime premiered its original movie My Christmas Prince, which told the story of an ordinary American girl who falls in love with a prince from a tiny, vaguely Bavarian European country where everyone has British accents, including the beautiful baroness who the prince is supposed to marry.
If that log-line sounds familiar, it’s because just two weeks ago, Netflix premiered its original movie called A Christmas Prince about an ordinary American girl who falls in love with a prince from a tiny vaguely Bavarian European country where everyone has British accents, including the beautiful baroness who the prince is supposed to marry.
There are a few notable differences, primarily that My Christmas Prince made the budget-friendly decision to take place entirely in the plucky American’s hometown of Maple Falls, Wyoming, instead of the royal castle in whatever European country. In this version, the prince and the girl, Samantha (Pitch Perfect’s Alexis “grab somebody sexy tell ‘em hey” Knapp), are already dating in New York City. She believes he’s a diplomat from a country that she’s never bothered to Google before, and he surprises her by dropping on her family while she’s home for Christmas.
While they’re in Samantha’s tiny hometown, someone recognizes him as the crown prince of Madelvia, and Samantha has to decide whether she’s comfortable with a future that involves her becoming a princess. Meanwhile, the Queen of Madelvia isn’t happy with Prince Alexander skipping out on Christmas, or dating a commoner, and so she sends the pretty baroness that Alexander has been more-or-less engaged to for life to go to Maple Falls to try and woo him. Samantha storms off, but then Prince Alexander makes an impassioned speech during the big Maple Falls Christmas dance and Samantha decides she loves him after all.
Of course, there are a few questions I had watching it. Like:
Why is Samantha commenting on Alexander’s bodyguard?
When Samantha and Alexander meet for coffee after her appointment at the office, she says, “There’s your bodyguard. We always see him!” But…. If they always see him, why would Samantha ever say that? Samantha and Alexander say “I love you,” and they’re very comfortable around each other; she’s even invited him home for Christmas. Conservatively, they’ve been dating for at least six months. So for the past six months, every time they’ve been together, the bodyguard has also been there. Why would Samantha just point him out? “There’s your bodyguard.” He knows, Samantha! And you should know too. You are not a toddler in the state of language-learning where you need to identify everything you see. You know this man! You should even probably know his name at this point. If you were nicer, maybe you could have bought him a coffee, too, like you bought one for Alex.
Why does the police officer accept a license from a country he’s never heard of?
While Alexander is driving in Maple Falls to surprise Samantha, he gets pulled over for driving too slow and swerving. The reason, he explains, is that his only map was on his cell phone, which he was looking at while he drove. That seems fairly problematic, but technically it’s not illegal in Wyoming, which yes, I did look up. But here’s the biggest red flag: the police officer asks for his license, and the prince hands over a piece of paper from his country of Madelvia, which the police officer does not recognize. “Is this a valid license?” the policeman asks, which, you know, you’d think the police should operate on more than the honor system when it comes to something that could have come from any high schooler with a laminating machine. The prince is like, “Yup.” And then the policeman sends him on his way. Terrible.
How did the Queen know that Prince Alexander flew commercial?
When Alex talks to his parents about how he won’t come home for Christmas because he’s with Samantha, they seem aghast that he’s planning on marrying some “American commoner” and also that he flew commercial to Maple Falls. But here’s the thing… how would they possibly know that? They mentioned that Alexander ditched his bodyguard and so there’s no one with him who would have reported back, and they’re surprised to hear that he’s in Maple Falls, so it’s not as though he used their credit card to book the flight and they checked the receipt. Even if they did check the receipt, it would only show the amount of money in the transaction and not the specific details of what it was purchasing.
And nothing we’ve seen about Prince Alexander thus far indicates that he would fly commercial. He has a massive and immaculate apartment with a fancy Himalayan salt block on the stainless steel range. He wears expertly tailored suits. It’s impossible for the Queen to know he flew commercial, and it also seems ridiculous to assume that he would have.
How do people not know it’s incredibly rude to show up as a houseguest as a surprise?
Alexander just shows up at Samantha’s family home in Maple Falls, Wyoming, with no warning. Not even a quick call or text to ask to make sure the guest room is still available. He just pops in on the family while they’re having their weekly dinner out like, “Hey, I know I turned down your invitation before but now I’m deciding that I wanted to take you up on it!” That’s not how invitations work, especially not invitations to be a guest in someone’s home. If someone invites you to his or her wedding, and you RSVP no, you’re not just allowed to come to the wedding because technically you were invited. Basic polite society doesn’t operate by vampire rules.
And Samantha’s friend does the exact same thing! She just shows up at the front door, going “I realized I was crazy to turn down your offer!” No call, no text, just imposing on the hospitality of a middle-aged couple that she’s never met before. Doesn’t this friend have a family of her own that she might want to spend Christmas with? Wasn’t there a reason she turned down the invitation in the first place? And this is after Samantha told her friend that Alexander also surprised her by coming down to stay with them. So this friend knows the family already has a house guest, and still thinks it’s totally normal just to hope they have two guest rooms after you book a cross-country flight. Well, guess what? They don’t and now Alexander is staying at a hotel. Everyone is rude. Texting exists. Although…
Have Samantha and Alexander never texted before?
To be fair, this is a problem with nearly all movies, not just My Christmas Prince, but when Alexander texts Samantha in the morning, it shows up in her iPhone as the first text in their log. They have no text history? They’re a couple! They had to have texted before. The only explanation I have is that they had some pretty intense sexts a night or two before and Samantha deleted the whole text thread out of morning embarrassment. But we see Alex’s phone too, and he also has no text history. So what gives?
Another common problem, but still: there have never been cups more egregiously and obviously empty than when Samantha and Alex “drink” cider at the hayride.
How is one photographer a “veritable circus”?
The main conflict in this movie is that after Samantha finds out that Alexander is a prince, she seems uncomfortable with all of the media attention they receive. But here’s the thing: they’re in Maple Falls, Wyoming and there is literally one reporter and one photographer. Take for instance the scene where Alexander and Samantha and her dad enter a local gingerbread-house building competition, and because he’s an “expert” at palaces, somehow that means Alexander is amazing at building gingerbread houses and they win.
As they’re being presented with the award, a reporter and photographer come out and take their picture, and the reporter asks, “Prince Alexander, what are you doing in Maple Falls?” which seems like a reasonable question, but which sends Samantha off in a tizzy. Seriously, what is the big deal? This reporter and photographer would have been at the local gingerbread competition anyway. Literally, even if he weren’t a prince, they would have taken the picture of that pretty amazing gingerbread castle that came in first prize. That’s what small-town newspapers do. It’s literally the least invasive and most normal press interaction I’ve ever seen. “It’s turned into a veritable circus!” says the Prince, whom I would have hoped would have been at events with more press than a small town gingerbread house competition before, but apparently not.
The same thing happens when the beautiful baroness shows up in Maple Falls on the Queen’s orders to try and remind the prince what he’s missing or whatever (does no one have a family of their own to spend Christmas with?). That same one local reporter and one photographer take their picture and Samantha acts like they’re the paparazzi around Princess Diana’s car. Alexander fairly calmly explains that he has no idea why this random girl from Madelvia was sent to her town, and agrees that it was pretty weird. “I don’t want it to be this hard!” Samantha cries before she storms off. Girl, this is not hard. If anything, this moment makes it explicitly clear that she does not have what it takes to be a member of any royal family.
The only time it would have been permissible to be freaked out by the reporter and photographer was when a continuity error makes them magically appear behind Alexander and Samantha while they’re fighting because that is terrifying.
Why wouldn’t Felicia have the Prince and Clara meet at the hotel?
So this one takes a bit of context, but for the love of bad Christmas movies, I cannot wrap my head around it. So the insane, controlling queen sent Felicia, her secretary, to Maple Falls either to watch over Alex or try to bring him home — her purpose is never entirely clear. And then the Queen also sends the baroness named Clara to Maple Falls to try to get the Prince to choose her instead of the girl he’s been dating for at least several months.
So Clara arrives at the hotel (the same hotel that the Prince is staying at now, because Samantha’s rude friend took the guest room) and Felicia goes to knock on the Prince’s door to let him know that, surprise, this pretty baroness from your home country is here. But Alex isn’t in his room because he went to get breakfast. Fine. Felicia pops into Clara’s room for a minute, and when she comes out, Alex is back. “That’s not your room,” he says, as Felicia is leaving Clara’s room. And then the most inexplicable thing in the world happens: instead of going, “Oh, yes, it’s actually Baroness Clara’s room, she’s here for you to love!” she makes up some insane lie about just checking out the room in case it was bigger. No less than three minutes ago you were knocking on his door to reunite him with Clara and now you’re in weird spy-mode trying to keep him from seeing her? Getting him to see her is the whole point!
And then, Felicia brings Clara to the hayride festival to spring her on Prince Alexander while he’s with his girlfriend. How is that possibly a better plan? How in god’s name would that have gone better than giving the Prince a few minutes alone to hang out with this gorgeous woman he’s known from childhood one-on-one? Everyone in this movie acts like Sims who’s assignments are being changed minute-to-minute and so they just freeze and change direction in the middle of scenes.
How are there possibly direct flights from Maple Falls to Madelvia?
I literally would never have, in a million years, assumed that there were any international flights from Maple Falls, and yet this film makes the incomprehensible decision to force us to believe that not only is the Maple Falls, Wyoming airport international, but it also offers flights to tiny Luxembourg-esque countries.
Prince Alexander is on the phone with his parents and he’s threatening not coming home. “I could get off the plane when it refuels in New York,” he sasses. REFUELS? It’s not a transfer? Why would they ever include that line? Why would they pretend this is a universe where Alexander wouldn’t need to fully change planes and, most likely, airlines to get to his insignificant country?
Look, I know it’s a small point, but they made the choice to include that line! Why! Was it just to infuriate me? Well, mission accomplished.
Where are Alexander and Samantha dancing in the final scene?
There’s a “One year later” epilogue that shows that Alexander and Samantha stayed together and spent the next Christmas in his palace in Madelvia. The scene shows them dressed up in full royal regalia, waltzing around a vast empty room with no furniture, only Christmas trees. What is going on here? First of all, why are they dancing in an empty room in the middle of the day (which we know, because the establishing shot was full-on daylight)? What is this room with zero furniture? There is nothing to indicate diegetic sound. And so the two of them are in full formalwear and makeup in the middle of the day, dancing in an empty room, in complete silence. They will be dancing there for eternity and their souls will never find peace.
So between A Christmas Prince and My Christmas Prince, which is…. THE Christmas Prince?
In order to accurately compare the two films, I have made a helpful chart:
Final advantage: A Christmas Prince. Netflix’s original movie offers more delightful manufactured conflict and more castle/royalty porn. If you’re only going to choose one so-good-it’s-bad made-for-TV movie about an American girl who ends up with a prince, go with Netflix’s offering. Or, better yet, just read the news about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry because that story actually has a woman of color in it who isn’t just the generic sidekick.