Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Entertainment

I Watched Every 2020 Netflix Christmas Release So You Don’t Have To

It is that time of year again! The season when I dedicate way too much of my time to watching all of the Netflix Original Christmas titles that have recently been released. A tradition that I started in 2018 (read that article here) and continued into 2019 (read that article here) only gets more difficult with each passing year as Netflix increases the amount of content they release. This Christmas season they plan to release nine movies and three mini-series, along with several other Christmas-related documentaries and specials. I watched nine of those titles as some of them have yet to release and as I could honestly not bring myself to watching The Christmas Chronicles 2 after watching the original (read my review here). I would like to mention another movie I really enjoyed this year: Happiest Season on Hulu (watch the trailer here). Some titles that have yet to release include the South African series, How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (watch the trailer here), and the second season of the Norwegian series that made my top spot last year, Home for Christmas (read my review and trailer). Here are the reviews of the seven movies and two mini-series I watched, ranked from worst to best.

Operation Christmas Drop

Here is Netflix’s attempt to make a classic Hallmark Christmas movie that…does not land. Operation Christmas Drop is based on true events, following a Congressional aide who travels to a beachside Air Force base over Christmas to investigate reasons to defund the facility. She meets Captain Andrew Jantz (Cato from The Hunger Games), who is on a mission to save the facility so they can continue their tradition of “Operation Christmas Drop.” What could have been a fine, classic Christmas rom-com gets muddled with a poorly animated gecko, a tired romance and an overwhelming amount of conversations about generators. This falls into a similar genre as last year’s Holiday in the Wild (read my review here), as they both feature true stories about government and wildlife rescue services…but at least that one had elephants. I would not recommend this movie unless you have nothing else to watch or love a bland romance.

Just Another Christmas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgSjiwdZSSM&t=10s

After watching The Circle: Brazil earlier this year, I was excited to see another Netflix title from Brazil. Just Another Christmas is a comedy following Jorge, a family man who is stuck in a time loop where he always wakes up on Christmas one year later than the last, only able to remember the events of last Christmas. I was very worried about twenty minutes into this movie as it was mostly physical comedy which is not my type of humor. However, the final half of the movie redeemed itself with a bit of a sudden switch to a more serious, reflective movie about not taking life for granted. As a whole, the movie is quite disjointed, and it was often confusing to know when it wanted to be taken seriously. Although it is a movie about family, do not get this confused for a family movie as it is rated TV-MA. It was not really my type of movie, but I would recommend adding it to your list if you are a fan of classic physical comedy movies.

The Princess Switch: Switched Again

Vanessa Hudgens is back again to play not one, not two, but three different characters! Following the events of the 2018 original movie (read my review here), The Princess Switch: Switched Again picks up as Duchess Margaret (Hudgens) is set to inherit the throne of Montenaro, leading to a break-up with her boyfriend, Kevin. Stacy (also Hudgens) crafts a plan to get them back together, but the throne is in jeopardy when Margaret’s cousin, Fiona (Hudgens…again), plots to become Queen. This movie is just as goofy as I had hoped with Hudgens juggling three different accents and a disjointed plot. Once again, Stacy and Margaret never explore why they look exactly alike, and now all of the side characters mostly ignore their constant switching too. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I would do if I found my doppelganger would be to figure out how we were related. Beyond that, this is an enjoyable sequel that leaves me in an anticipation for a third movie where Hudgens gets to play four roles!

Christmas Crossfire
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiZeMNPNrDw

One of two titles from Germany, I discovered Christmas Crossfire at the last moment, as it was not listed on any of the original Netflix movie watchlists. Normally I would skip it as it was not in my plans to watch originally, but the trailer made me want to press play. Christmas Crossfire is an action-packed crime thriller about a man who interrupts a murder plot and is being targeted as a result, while a woman he just met attempts to find him. This movie has many comedic elements throughout, as the violence is over-the-top and the characters are often goofy. The Christmas element of this movie is quite minimal besides the soundtrack and the occasional mentioning of Christmas. I enjoyed the comedy, but the plot gets a bit muddled as there are a few too many characters to keep track of. Overall, it is a fun movie to watch if you are interested in a dark, comedic action movie with a dash of Christmas spirit that is definitely not like the other titles on this list. Content warning: sexual assault, violence, and self-harm.

Holidate

Holidate’s early release date (before Halloween) scared me and made me worry that we were jumping into the Christmas season before I could complete my Halloween movie marathon. However, after watching it, I now understand why they wanted to differentiate this from other Christmas movies…because it barely could be considered one. Holidate stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey in this holiday comedy-romance (more comedy, less romance) about two singles who agree to be each other’s plus-ones for every holiday gathering. Instead of a classic, cheesy rom-com, it was a perfectly average comedy movie telling the perspective of each holiday from the perspective of a nice, suburban mall. There are some funny moments throughout, but it is unclear to me what the audience is for this movie, as it is not suitable for families, but I cannot picture the typical viewers of Hallmark Christmas movies enjoying it either. I would recommend this for fans of comedy movies and fans of Kristin Chenoweth, who makes a fabulous appearance.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

As I am not an avid fan of Dolly Parton (but appreciate how fabulous and legendary she is, of course), I was not sure this movie would be for me. I was pleasantly surprised by Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, a delightful and charming movie full of fun song and dance. Featuring fourteen songs written by Parton, this movie takes place in a small town, where the fate of the townspeople is at risk of an embittered woman (Christine Baranski) who plans to evict everyone and sell the town. Parton plays an angel who has been sent to try to change Baranski’s character and help her see the good in the town, despite her troubled past. The joyful songs and the constant goofy moments made this a very enjoyable watch that I would especially recommend to fans of Parton (though I am sure the fans watched it as soon as it premiered).

Over Christmas

Over Christmas is one of the many international Christmas titles that Netflix offered this year, showing an expansion from last year’s Norwegian series, Home for Christmas. This German mini-series is a comedy about Bastian, a struggling musician, who returns home for Christmas to discover that his ex is now dating his brother and his family is keeping a big secret. I especially enjoy watching these international series as I get to explore a place I have never been in the world, even if it is only through my screen for three episodes. I enjoyed this series mostly for this reason and the comedic elements about disjointed family gatherings that most people can understand. The charm that was offered in the first two episodes is somewhat diminished by the finale, which attempts to tie everything up into a pretty bow a bit too much with the level of conflict that is explored in the series. However, if you are looking for a quick comedy that takes you through a quaint German city, this one is for you.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

From the moment I saw the first promotion, I knew that this was the Christmas title that Netflix was most proud of. After last year’s Klaus (read my review here), Netflix had to create their next movie to feel like an instant classic. Jingle Jangle is a movie musical that tells the tale of an inventive girl who goes to visit her grandfather, who was a successful toymaker until tragedy struck his family and the shop. With music from John Legend and Usher along with performances from Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key, Jingle Jangle is full of star power and magical moments. I would have loved to have this movie as a child, and I believe that families and young children will enjoy its brilliance. The representation should also not be overlooked, especially as a film set in the Victorian era (watch Variety’s interview with the cast on why the diverse cast was important). The choreography (from the same team as The Greatest Showman), the costume design (Michael Wilkinson) and the production design (Gavin Bocquet) all play a role in creating this film’s colorful world. The reason this does not make the top place on my ranking is because it was not really made for me as an audience member, but I still could sense the magic this movie could have for young children.

Dash & Lily

One of two Christmas mini-series I watched this year, Dash & Lily tells the story of Lily, a girl who leaves a journal full of dares in her favorite bookstore hoping someone will find it. When Dash discovers the journal, it leads them both on a whirlwind adventure through New York City around Christmas. This series is based on a novel (Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares) by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn which I have not read, but a friend of mine who loved the book also enjoyed the series. Dash & Lily requires a bit of imagination from the audience, as it is hard to ignore the fact that the likelihood of someone who is not a creepy old man picking up the journal is quite low. However, once I finished the first episode, I found myself quickly invested in these characters and the storyline. The sometimes cheesy premise takes a lot of unpredictable turns that I appreciated as someone who watches a lot of bland romance movies. This made my top spot in my ranking for the creative storytelling and overall joyful spirit this series brought to my Christmas season. I would highly recommend giving this series a watch if you enjoy serendipitous romances or enjoy a good dare.

Netflix once again delivered a lot of Christmas content, some which were better than others. I fully anticipate that once I watch the second season of Home for Christmas (set to release on December 18), it will secure my top spot. I hope you enjoyed my ranking and pick the best movies and series to add to your watchlist to get into the Christmas spirit. Happy viewing!

Lainey is a senior at Kent State University studying Fashion Design with a minor in Costume Design & Technology. She is so excited to be the Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus Kent State this year and to start her career in costume design for film and television. Read on for the latest on film, fashion, music and much more!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️