The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To get it in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.
Oh merriment, oh joy, it is time! Time for lush winter coats and berets! For, flaky, faux snow! For the loosening of severe buns in picturesque towns with a curious lack of economic depression!
It’s time for Christmas movies, works of HEART so bad they’re good. This category of film has been going strong for years thanks to Hallmark and Lifetime, but it continues to faithfully expand onto all of the 76 streaming services.
The 2022 holiday season brings an extra blessing: the return of Lindsay Lohan. The queen of the aughts went through difficult times, appearing in more court hearings than fans would have preferred. She was a tabloid fixture, yes, but let’s not forget she is a truly talented actor. I will need a new thread to discuss my appreciation (fine, obsession) for “Mean Girls.”
LiLo (we are on a nickname basis) left acting in 2014, did stuff in Greece and married someone with Tampa ties, because all roads lead back to Florida. Now comes the Lohanaissance! Her first movie in years is “Falling for Christmas” on Netflix. It dropped Nov. 10 and I bravely watched it for you.
This is not a great movie. This is a fun, stupid Christmas movie that at times makes no sense, a perfect, low-stakes way for Lindsay to dip back into the public eye. This movie is self-aware, and so, I think, is Lindsay. Your honor, I am in support, even as I gear up to make fun of this viewing experience.
Let’s do a real-time recap of the entire movie, hm? There are spoilers ahead, although only if you are new to this planet. May I suggest firing up the movie and reading this recap in conjunction? You’re welcome.
We open on Lindsay wearing a silk eye mask in bed. Her lip gloss is popping.
She gets a wakeup call. She is staying at the luxurious Belmont Summit Resort, a ski hotel. We know this due to B-roll footage of skiers, hot tubs and tiny purse dogs.
Exposition!!! Her father, who owns the resort, flew her in at Christmas to consider taking a job as the “vice president of atmosphere,” lololololol.
She has a personal assistant named Terry, a glam squad and a rich influencer boyfriend named… Tad. And I threw up in my mouth a little.
“When people look at me, all they see is the spoiled daughter of Beauregard Belmont,” she says. And, “I just want people to remember me for more than my last name.” It’s clear that this will be the spiritual core of the movie!!
Planning your weekend?
Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Oh, look, it’s the blond guy from “Glee”! It’s Chord Overstreet! He is playing JAKE RUSSELL, the most generic White Guy name available.
He is trying to hustle Lindsay’s dad, Beauregard Belmont. Jake owns a struggling lodge in town and wants Beauregard to invest. I can’t believe they actually named the rich guy Beauregard.
They race down the slopes and Jake politely loses because he wants money. Beauregard knows this game. He’s like, no thanks, bye, but he gives Jake some hot cocoa because it’s Christmas in this piece!
Chord Overstreet is pulling off this whole Columbia sportswear, REI membership vibe. I could see meeting him at a microbrewery and discussing carabiners.
ALERT. ALERT. LILO IS ON AN ELEVATOR IN A RED JUMPSUIT, GUCCI INDOORS SUNGLASSES AND GIANT STATEMENT HAT. Tad is wearing a matching Gucci jacket, barf.
Oh no! Jake has run into LiLo and spilled his cocoa all over her fyre alphet! It’s giving Cher Horowitz. RUIN MY SATIN SHOES, WHY DON’T YOU?
LiLo and Tad have breakfast with Beauregard, who clearly hates Tad’s guts and is a stand-in for all of us. LiLo rejects bacon.
I just realized I don’t know her character’s name at all. Well, it’ll come, I’m not rewinding.
Flash to Jake’s small, family-run ski lodge, the North Star, which I guess we are supposed to find disgusting and downtrodden but honestly looks pleasant and charming. He has a small daughter. There is no mother, and we don’t know why yet, but clearly she has died because men in these movies do not simply get divorced and share custody.
Jake is depressed about his lodge and instead of spending time with his daughter, he pushes her off on Grandma so he can brood over an empty reservation book.
“Haven’t you heard, Dad?” she says, doing all the emotional labor in the family. “Christmas is a time for miracles.”
Jake examines a white Christmas angel that he has shoved into a desk drawer, clearly a rom-com talisman that will factor in later.
ALERT. ALERT. LILO IN HOT PINK SKI SUIT AND MATCHING LIPSTICK.
Linds tries to tell her dad she doesn’t want to be vice president of atmosphere, but she can’t. She holds a snow globe and they talk about her mother, who is apparently ALSO dead, because there is no such thing as irreconcilable differences in these films.
Beauregard says he promised Lindsay’s mother he would take care of her, but… wait, this woman is a full adult. How old is Lindsay Lohan? Hold on, I’ll check. She is 36 years old, BEAU.
ALERT. MATCHING FUR HAT.
Tad is back being horrible and literally runs over a bellhop’s foot. Linds sings “Jingle Bell Rock” in the car, which real ones know is a “Mean Girls” call out. Tad changes the station, because he sucks.
Over at Jake’s lodge, Jake gives a couple a ride on the lodge sleigh, which is a normal thing to have. The decrepit sleigh is grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, but he distracts the couple with cookies.
Tad takes Linds to a secluded spot and they struggle to unhook a snowmobile. Here we have lots of great green screen snowmobile action, and maybe they drive off a cliff and die? The movie can’t be over this soon.
They’re OK! He proposes. Sierra? Her name is Sierra! He gives her a yellow diamond ring, very 2008 J.Lo.
Back at the lodge, Jake’s daughter visits a wishing tree with Grandma. Santa is here, too, and has the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen in my life. His teeth are BLAMMO. I heard a ping, guys. He does some witchcraft and the dark arts create a snowfall.
The snow imperils Tad and SIERRA. Sierra FALLS BACKWARD OFF A MOUNTAIN while her giant wedding ring slips off into Tad’s hands, a heavy-handed metaphor at best, and then they both go falling to untimely fates.
She hits her head on a tree, which definitely would have 86′d her in real life. Tad is missing, but no one cares.
NO WORRIES, JAKE IS HERE IN HIS BUSTED SLEIGH. He finds Sierra’s lifeless body and calls in a “Code Three,” which means “Maybe a Dead Lindsay Lohan in the Snow.”
We’re in the hospital. She has a concussion and .... oh, no... amnesia. this is an AMNESIA ROM COM, HELP ME.
She is bruised but her hair looks 100 and her concussion gauze is stylishly appointed. She does not know who she is. A sheriff shows up being staggeringly unhelpful, like, “Welp, sorry.”
Jake, who I guess does not recognize her from the cocoa incident, agrees to take her to his lodge, mostly to get the romantic engine of this baby going.
Sierra wanders around Jake’s lodge in Christmas pajamas. Apparently, the medical professionals just released this concussed, amnesiac woman into the care of a stranger. Is this medical malpractice?
She locks eyes with Jake’s precious and neglected child.
There’s a slapstick raccoon moment outside her room’s window, and Jake, who is... always right around every corner??? comes in. Why are you standing outside her door, Jake? Isn’t your business going under and aren’t you grieving and stuff?
He looks at her seductively, then leaves.
Back to *&^%@#*^ Tad, who finds a mysterious cabin in the woods and someone named Ralph minding his own business. Tad asks Ralph for a phone charger, and I die a little.
Sierra wakes up in the destitute, hideous lodge. Netflix’s “A Castle for Christmas” is on in the room. Clever, Netflix!
Jake’s daughter walks in. Addie? Why is it so hard to learn names in this movie? Sierra asks for a blow dryer and Addie gives her the worst hotel device on the planet. You know those little ones that barely get hot? Somehow, Sierra emerges with a full blowout and soft barrel curls.
EXPOSITION. We learn Addie’s mom did, in fact, die (duh).
Sierra decides her name might be Sarah, so we’re calling her Sarah for a while, got it? It doesn’t matter.
Jake is making pumpkin pancakes and eggs. Sarah says she can make her own breakfast. The joke is that she actually can’t, because she’s a One Percenter.
Jake gets kind of HANDSY over the PAN-SY. Addie convinces Sarah to try bacon, and Sarah realizes bacon is good and goes HAM on the ham.
Back at the Belmont, the glam squad looks for Sierra/Sarah/Sahara, who they don’t know is in Jake’s seductive Chaco and Patagonia clutches. They think Tad kidnapped her. I would as well. Speaking of Tad, Ralph throws him an ax and is all, go kill a squirrel, you idiot. I like Ralph.
Meanwhile at the lodge, Jake wonders how his business can compete with Airbnb. What cultural commentary!
Sarah decides to do normal stuff to get her memory back. She makes a bed, tries to clean a toilet, bungles the laundry.
Pause. Why is no one helping this woman who clearly has a traumatic brain injury? They’re just like, haha, cute, she can’t do chores!
Addie is doing her hair. Sarah helps her and the light is really diffused and golden and the moment is tender. Sarah remembers some stuff about her mom.
Oh, wait, the kid’s name might be Abbie? I’m still not rewinding.
Soap fills the laundry room (a classic) and Jake yells at the traumatic brain injury victim because he’s stressed over the vacation rental crisis. Sarah goes outside to talk to a horse named Balthazar, who is nicer than Jake. She cries to the horse about how she can’t do anything right, unaware that JAKE IS IN THE HORSE SHED. HOW DID HE EVEN GET THERE?
Despite her depression and confusion, she continues doing manual labor, and there is a slapstick fall with a pile of firewood. Jake comes to help her and apologizes for yelling about VRBO and then Sarah is like, I still have a brain injury.
They decide to go to the Christmas market downtown in case someone might recognize her. Do we not have the whole internet?
SANTA IS BACK WITH HIS TEETH LIKE CHICLETS.
Jake gets deep and confessy about his wife and how the lodge has been part of the family for three generations. He wants to keep it alive but these BIG RESORT PEOPLE WANT TO RUIN IT. Is it big resort people or Airbnb? I think Jake should look inward and repair his sleigh.
They make googly eyes at each other, bonding over, I guess, the crushing economic imbalance of late capitalism.
Santa is selling a brand new sleigh in a market stall, but it is out of Jake’s price range. Santa is like, maybe you broke folks can afford this instead, and hands Sarah a triggering snow globe. Jake buys it for her. Is this love-bombing?
They go to the tree lighting. Santa smiles with his Crest white strip chompers.
The mayor lights the tree and everyone seems to like him, even though context clues tell us local leadership is not managing the vacation rental crisis.
Back at the lodge, Jake’s hair is pushed back out of his face and his sleeves are rolled up. LOOK OUT, GIRL.
Sarah says, “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like you before, because if I had, I’d definitely remember.” Probably because he’s always creeping outside doors.
Cue self-actualization sequence in which Sarah has learned to make a bed and flip a pancake and do laundry. At last, the woman learns domestication. We can all exhale.
There’s a food fight with a gingerbread house, followed by some skiing. I’m not sure our heroine is in a solid medical place to be on the slopes. This seems reckless.
JAKE AND SARAH TUMBLE DOWN TOGETHER IN THE SNOW BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DO. EVERY ROM COM IN HISTORY HAS LOVERS FALLING DOWN TOGETHER, AND I’M SHOUTING.
Addie/Abbie’s grandmother cries over photos of her daughter. The grandma, Alejandra, tells Sarah to hook up with Jake because he’s lonely and she’s cute. She confirms the lodge is deffo gonna fold.
Sarah discovers the drawer angel. Jake is waiting right outside the door, like always. He explains that he and his wife bought the angel together and then she got generic sick etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.
Oops, he’s gotta run to the toy drive! Sarah offers to help, and thirsty Jake is all, oh, yes. Sarah tries to wrap presents but is bad at it. Jake shows her how to do woman things. Once again, her hair looks fantastic.
A random character tells Sarah how much money Jake donates to people in town every year, which sounds super charitable, but might be part of his problem? With the business? Like, maybe Jake needs to secure his own oxygen mask before helping the rest of the plane?
They almost kiss, but Jake pulls back because he remembers she has amnesia and is trapped like Belle in the Beast’s castle while no one makes any effort at all to find her family, lol.
BATHROOM BREAK. OK, LET’S GET TO THAT ENDING.
Sarah wakes up with a plan to help the North Star. A fundraiser. Jake refuses this simple and reasonable solution because he finds a perverse comfort in his own misery. He’s tired of struggling but refuses to do anything other than mope around in his Carhartts.
Sarah is all, what about the memories?!
Then he says, “What do you know about memories? You can’t even remember your name.” Oh my God, I might hate Jake? She leaves, and he chases her and says she makes him feel ways, that he’s just afraid of making new memories. Then he leaves her alone in the snow. I’ve lost count of the red flags.
Sarah says it’s time for her to go, but, like, where? She doesn’t know who she is? Everyone is sad because they love Sarah, but they still do not seem concerned on a medical level.
Jake comes out with the &*^$% angel and asks Sarah to put it on the tree. It has been mere days! I would not want to put my situationship’s late wife’s angel on the tree!
It’s time for the fundraiser party, called “Remembering Christmas.” Get it? Wait, why isn’t this the name of the movie?
Daddy Belmont finds out his adult daughter has been missing for four days. He calls the cops, but it’s the same cop who did not help whatsoever in the hospital. There’s a weird side plot where Ralph gets arrested for poaching on government land (?) and helpless Tad goes with him to the station where he finds Daddy Belmont. They all figure out what’s going on.
Alejandra comes into Sarah’s room with a box and is like, change out of your disgusting clothes if you’re going to be with our boy Jake and his waxed jackets.
ALERT. ALERT. STAIRCASE DRESS MOMENT.
It’s a scant dress for Dec. 24 and I think she might be cold? She adds a sequined blazer, which I last saw at a Dolly Parton concert, and this is not a complaint.
They dance and almost kiss, but the mayor busts in along with.... the entire town.
They are going to run out of crab puffs.
Jake tries to make a speech but stumbles. This would be an opportune time to say, “We are hosting a lady with a brain injury if anyone can help us find her family,” but he does not.
The people flood him with checks. The mayor says the lodge will be a historic site, and everyone claps because now Jake can get grants and whatever. Then the mayor hands him a personal check, which seems fraught, and someone should run the public records.
TAD AND DAD BUST IN. They mansplain it all.
“So, your name is Sierra,” Jake says, frowny. We will now be switching back to Sierra. Thank you for your patience.
Mr. Belmont remembers meeting Jake when he tried to hustle him on the slopes.
Tragically, Sierra remembers Tad.
“Clearly you’ve taken very good care of my daughter,” Mr. Belmont says about this woman pushing 40.
Sierra leaves and Jake stands near the appetizers with watery eyes.
She wakes up at the Belmont and thinks of Jake. She makes her bed, and the glam squad is like, WHO IS THIS DEMON? She rejects caviar. She goes to the hotel kitchen to make pancakes, which is probably really annoying to the staff.
Tad is wearing some English morning suit, disgusted at Sierra’s simple jeans.
It’s Christmas at Jake’s. He’s still worried about the business but has dutifully worn his plaid robe. Sierra is giving a TV press conference about her tragic, four-day disappearance. Tad butts in and shows off her diamond, and Jake can’t bear to watch.
Abbie admits she wished for her dad to find someone to love when Santa “The Teeth” Claus made it snow around the wishing tree. They decide to make One! Last! Bid! But Jake’s snowmobile won’t start, because I guess this is “The Shining.”
Then... the SLEIGH from the MARKET appears on the PORCH. Very normal! They fetch Balthazaar, Sarah/Sierra’s therapy horse, and I actually can’t believe what I’m watching.
Sierra tells her dad she doesn’t want his fake job and that she needs to find her own way. He says he’s proud of her, an 89-year-old woman.
Reservations start pouring in to the North Star because Sierra mentioned it during the press conference. I guess the people at home were like, “If it was good enough for this rich lady to convalesce at...”
Sierra breaks up with Tad, because of course she does. He asks if he can post about it for follows and Sarah is like, tee hee.
Terry, Sierra’s handler, says he is sorry about the breakup and then... Tad... FLIRTS WITH TERRY. I DID NOT SEE THIS TWIST COMING, BUT I LIKE IT!!
Jake throws himself in front of Tad’s Hummer limo and confesses his love at a tinted window. The window goes down.
Haha, it’s Tad, you jerk! And he’s with Terry now! This is the most I’ve liked Tad all movie.
Mr. Toothy Claus, who is at the ski resort for some reason, tells Jake his lady awaits in the snow-covered hotel courtyard. She is just standing around cold, and I wonder if she has had any follow-up appointments with a neurologist.
Sierra asks if she can work with Jake and says her daddy wants to invest in the lodge. Jake PULLS MISTLETOE out of his POCKET.
They make out.
Absentee father Jake has once again left his young daughter unattended, so Santa Smiles lets her in to the make-out sesh, along with Mr. Belmont.
“What a Christmas, guys,” Jake says.
“Yeah,” says Sierra. “It’s one I’ll never forget.”
Do yOu SeE whAt thEy DiD ThERe?
The credits are bloopers! I love blooper credits! It’s the best way to end this kind of movie. The creators are just like, “Yeah, this was ridiculous, and we know you will not think about this movie ever again starting in the next five minutes, so here is footage of your former teen queen being adorable to a soundtrack of her meta “Mean Girls” holiday tune, which we all know is what you came for!!
I have a good feeling about this holiday. Thanks, LiLo, and welcome back.
Get Stephanie’s newsletter
For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the free Stephinitely newsletter.