No one knows you better than your Netflix queue, so I had no choice but to acquiesce when it showed a 96 percent match for A Christmas Prince. This is a Netflix original to end all Netflix originals, created in the vein of every Lifetime and Hallmark holiday movie. This one involves a “journalist” who goes “undercover” at a “palace.”
I love these movies as much as I hate them. It’s hard to describe. It’s like wanting to be invited to a party by someone who spread rumors about you. What is that?
Instead of work this out, I took notes. If you decide you’d rather see what’s on sale at Home Goods instead of watch this, you can still feel kind of informed. Spoilers are ahead for those of you who can’t predict simple plot devices used literally thousands of times in rom coms.
A CHRISTMAS PRINCE IN REAL TIME
Establishing footage of snowy New York City. Statue of Liberty, etc.
We are in the slick office of NOW BEAT Magazine, which sounds like a faulty translation on a novelty sweater purchased overseas. We meet Amber Moore, a low level copy editor in Converse. Cute, ok. Dress for the job you want, but ok.
She confronts a writer who has turned in 600 words on fashion week when his assignment was 350. “I don't have time for this now, just, clean it up," he tells her, like the devil. She’s like, it’s not a cleanup, it’s a “major rewrite,” a major rewrite of a 350 word piece, and he’s still a sassy jerk.
Her two office friends who don’t seem to work are like, girl, no. And she’s like, “How else am I supposed to become a REAL journalist?” She shows them five rejection letters, printed on paper, which I think is some kind of a tree?
Her stern, severe editor calls her in. She wants her to uncover a mess with the royal family of “Aldovia,” because she has no other writers available.
The prince, who they call “his royal hotness,” needs to decide whether to take over the throne for his late father. He’s hemming and hawing and everyone thinks it’s because he just wants to PARRRRRRTEEEE.
Amber visits her dad at the diner he runs. Her mom has died. She doesn’t want to leave dad alone at Christmas.
"Stay true to your dreams and success will follow," Dad says, and I feel a faint wind blow through my ears.
“You gotta take a risk if you’re gonna win,” he also says, and my hands feel cold.
Establishing shot of plane.
Amber arrives at Aldovia International Airport. She is an intuitive journalist because she blindly walks past the flock of press waiting for the prince and tries to get a cab.
But some jerk jumps in her cab!
(It’s obvi the prince.)
Establishing shot of palace.
There’s a press conference, and Amber could not be bothered to change out of her jeans and Converse, and I’m like, it’s not quirky, it’s kind of rude.
The prince ditches the presser. Everyone is mad.
Amber sneaks into an open door a the palace. She walks around taking lots of cell phone pics with the “click” sound effect on full volume. That’s a really easy feature to disable, but, ok.
An angry woman in a suit is like, you must be the new American tutor, Martha. And Amber is like, totes, that’s me.
She meets her charge, Princess Emily. She has spina bifida and walks on crutches. She also terrorized her last tutor by putting a mouse in her bed. I’d be on the first plane.
She meets a scruffy looking guy, who looks like a cross between Paul Rudd and that Chris who played Captain America.
It’s the guy from the cab! Rude!
Captain Rudd gives her the eyes. He's actually Prince Richard, which we figured out 17 minutes ago.
She immediately backs into a 15th century porcelain vase and shatters it. The children laugh, they are rich, hah hah!
Amber calls her editor who loves this ruse, says it's fine if she goes to jail, play it out as long as she can film and record illegally. Sterling leadership.
Princes Emily puts a mouse on Amber’s chair.
Amber does not know how to do math.
They go visit Prince Richard, who is doing archery outside in the snow, as one does. He has shaved. She gets heart eyes. They talk awkwardly about his face for a while. This all leads to Amber destroying another priceless artifact, this time with the arrow.
Princess Emily invites Amber to a cocktail party because apparently small children go to those.
There are jellied meats.
Amber tries to take covert pictures on her phone but still has not learned how to turn off the snap noise.
Richard shows up looking fyne.
More loud snapping.
A cousin, Simon, shows up. He is clearly in contest for the throne with Richard. They throw some barbs about not having souls, light and fun.
Amber takes more LOUD PICS.
We learn that Simon is next in line for the throne, even though Princess Emily is there, but she’s a girl, you know? Ew.
Amber Skypes her friends back in New York, who are not working. “Where there’s a tiara, there’s dirt,” one of them assures her after she tells them the prince is kind of of a snooze.
Amber walks in on Richard, who is playing piano softly in a sweater. She films him.
He lost his dad. She lost her mom. They come closer together. Holidays are the worst.
He opens up about his conflict with abdication. She says she heard he didn't want to give up his lifestyle, which was "women, wine and song," circa 1926.
She scores an invite to another cocktail party. They hang the late king's handmade ornaments. One is an acorn, which you need to know for later.
This part is really boring. I check my email.
OH WAIT, LADY SOPHIA ENTERS. She is the romantic foil. She is in a red sheath with a zipper down the back. She notices plain old boring Amber and sneers at her Converse. Yes, she is wearing the Converse to another formal event.
The next day, Princess Emily tells Amber that she’s onto her games. She looked at Amber’s laptop, making it the least difficult investigation in history. Emily decides to let this go on, probably because she is a bored child held prisoner in a palace. Just be cool to my brother, she says.
They make cookies and dish about Baroness Sophia.
"He used to love her but that was a long time ago and now she's back, so who knows?" That is literally the line.
Sophia visits Richard, who is still playing Christmas carols alone on a piano.
She has never gotten over him.
Richard is like, girl, bye.
It’s the next day at a benefit for orphan children. There is some royal business that's boring and no one can find Richard, because he is having a snow battle with orphans. Amber films again.
Richard’s mother yells at him.
There's some more tutoring. Amber and Emily go play in the snow. There is a sledding scene.
Richard rolls up ON A BLACK HORSE.
There's a snowball fight and the horse runs away and I'm actually really concerned about the horse.
The horse can be spotted in the background and it's ok, guys.
Amber and Prince Richard do that thing where they fall on top of each other in the snow, and I pause to wonder who that has actually ever happened to in the history of the world.
Simon and Sophia arrive in a horse drawn carriage, because this is apparently 1899.
Amber has to dig deeper. There’s more here, she knows it.
There is B roll of a bird, and a waterfall.
The prince brings the black horse out of the stable for a ride. Amber stalks him with her phone again. She sees a brown horse, and although we have not established that she has any experience whatsoever with horses, she hops on. This is fine. Everything's fine.
She gets lost in the woods because she has no skills.
She tells the horse to head back as if the horse is Amazon’s Alexa.
The brown horse throws her off and runs away, good horse, good horse.
It's nightfall. She is alone in the woods. Wolves appear snarling. If only there was a man to save her.
There is a man to save her! Richard fires his gun into the air, but no animals were harmed in the making of this film.
They warm by the fire of some cabin. He gives her a secret Aldovian cocktail which, frankly I'm not sure I'd be taking from a guy I hardly know in a far-off cabin.
He opens up about dad issues.
She tries again to get him to say why he doesn't want to be king.
She changes the topic to Sophia, who Richard hates for various reasons.
Amber tells Richard to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, which is the New York City establishing shot version of advice.
They look at a book of poems. I wonder how the black horse is doing.
They start to kiss, but the horses make noise, as if they know I'm curious about them. The horses are the heroes of this movie.
While he goes to what-up the horses, she looks under a desk and finds a secret drawer that contains a folder.
(I am not making this up.)
She steals the folder.
They ride back together on black horse, sassy brown horse trailing behind because He Knows What He Did.
Inside the folder in her room, Amber finds a a birth certificate that shows the prince was adopted !!11!!!!!11!!!!
She Skypes her friends, who are still not doing anything at work.
Sophia confronts Richard and calls Amber a "peasant." She kisses him and of course Amber walks in at that exact moment. Amber runs, and Richard pushes Sophia away blah blah.
Amber doesnt know what to do. She calls her dad.
"I don't know anything about your job but this I do know. You gotta listen to your heart, peanut.”
And then he categorizes his advice as "better than a fortune cookie," which is open for debate.
Prince Richard shows up in her room! How forward! He invites her for a walk. They talk about how bad she is at horses.
Amber is like, I saw you macking with Lady Sophia and Richard is like no, no, no, baby, and she's like, uh huh, and he's like, no.
He asks her to go to the Christmas Eve ball. It's time! She has to tell him the truth! But he kisses her before she can say it!
Now, dumbfounded by love's true kiss, she is able to go forth a liar one more morrow.
Sophia and Simon sneak into Amber's room. They look through all her stuff and find her passport.
Simon finds the birth certificate and says, "Well, well, well, looks like Christmas came early," and I die a little inside.
Richard visits his dad's grave. He is in a fetching cap and leather driving gloves. He decides to accept the crown even though this royal life is also a living hellscape for him.
Amber chooses a plain terrible dress for the ball but Princess Emily is basically like, if that's what you WANT to wear...
Emily gives Amber a gift. Let it be a refund from Netflix. No, wait. I love this, I take it back.
It's a bracelet.
Emily has ordered up a glam squad because Amber can’t be trusted to dress herself. MAKEOVER TIME, GUYS.
She enters via grand staircase in a strapless lavender number, updo and smokey eyes. Even Simon notices. Lady Sophia is FURIOUS.
She's still wearing her &%#*)^%$% Converse.
Prince Richard is all AWOOGA.
There are lot of lovely twinkling lights at the dance. They are waltzing. This junior editor form New York whose dad runs a deli somehow knows how to waltz perfectly.
Sophia issues eye daggers of death.
Richard tells her she's more genuine that anyone he's ever met, which is funny because she's a terrible liar.
It's time for coronation! The crown appears to be from Party City.
I can’t believe there are 24 minutes left in this.
He takes the sceptor.
Lady Sophia interjects! She reveals he's adopted, which feels pretty rude to do at a party.
She outs Amber as posing as a tutor to the princess. Everyone gasps and murmurs. Prince is REAL bummed.
She admits to being a journalist.
The queen admits that Richard is adopted, in front of everyone. Richard storms off.
Amber goes after him which seems like a bad idea. I would just need some space.
Simon hops up, and is like, I'LL TAKE THE THRONE AND SOPHIA WILL BE QUEEN.
Amber chases Richard and they go back and forth about how things got out of hand and she cries and he storms off.
ESTABLISHING SHOT OF CASTLE AT NIGHT IS DRAMATIC.
Richard talks to a painting of his father. He’s mad! Why didn’t he tell him he was adopted? His mother comes in, and they talk about things in a library full of bound books. She never really gives him a good reason for not telling him about the adoption but she does call Emily, his younger sister, a biological miracle born when least expected, which leads me to think there is going to be some twist in which girls are allowed to take the throne.
Richard wont let Simon get the throne without a fight.
I wonder what black horse is up to.
Simon and Sophia get married in a sham ceremony on Christmas. She won't even kiss him. Her fascinator is good, though.
Amber goes to the airport. She sobs in her seat because she has lost her moral compass, and her prince.
She calls her dad.
"It's a learning experience,” he says. “Failure plants the seed for greater successes down the road." My teeth hurt.
The quote reminds her of the poem they found in the lodge. Something about an acorn. She has to run back to the palace. Amber races to the tree and gets the acorn ornament, which has a letter inside.
Simon is getting crowned, and I realize he is basically Scott Disick from the Kardashians. He gets the sceptor.
Amber busts in with the acorn and yells STOP!
Before he died, the king amended the law to let Richard become successor. I guess he wanted to hide this very important legal document in a holiday acorn for funsies?
Sophia is like, let's divorce.
Richard gets the sceptor. There is no twist in which the girl gets the job. He's crowned king. Prime minister wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.
Back in New York, Amber files her story, which her editor hates. Her editor is angry. She blew it! She's back on the copy desk, rewriting 350 word manifestos.
Amber quits, storming out of the office in her Converse.
Her friends are there, still not working. Amber decides she's going to start a blog. They hug.
There's a party in her dad's diner for the new year. Her blog broke 20,000 likes. Her dad says she can still work at the diner, which seems like a decent option.
Her friends try to take her out and she's like, nah, I'd rather sit in this diner alone than hang out with you guys. She cleans the burger plates.
It's midnight, and Amber has a bottle of Windex. As she wipes the window, a snowball flies toward it! It's Prince -- no, King! Richard!
He never had the chance to say goodbye. He calls her a great reporter. He saw her blog.
He does not seem to care that she engaged in some pretty serious identity fraud in order to expose his life. He's going to rule from the heart.
THEY BARELY KNOW EACH OTHER.
"We barely know each other," she says.
She kisses him. She doesn't care. She says yes, and I need a wine.
Her dad watches them making out through the deli window, which goes on a few beats too long.
Establishing shot of New York fireworks.
They kiss in the snow and the camera pans out, which is clearly the end of Bridget Jones's Diary and anyone watching A Christmas Prince definitely knows this.
My next Netflix suggestion comes up. It is The Boss Baby. I am alone with these demons.