tv review

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding Is Just As Ridiculous As the Original

Photo: Netflix

Hello and welcome to A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, the Netflix holiday-movie follow-up to A Christmas Prince with the perfect title. First, it’s got the first movie’s title right in the name, lest you forget that this is a sequel. Next, it tells you exactly what’s going to happen: a royal wedding! But the best way this title establishes your expectations is by being immediately, wildly inaccurate! As our protagonist Amber will tell us in the very first moments of this movie, she is not marrying a prince. She’s marrying the king. He’s not even a Christmas prince anymore! What are you doing, movie?!

Fade in on the story of our intrepid blogger queen-to-be, Amber Moore, who’s writing a blog with the SEO-unfriendly headline “Big event.” “Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind year,” Amber tells us in voice-over. The movie flashes back through a montage of images, like the check-in sign at an airport and random hands stamping passports. At one point, Amber and Richard are holding hands in a park and appear to be frantically skipping somewhere?

As Amber continues to explain the challenges of their long-distance engagement, we see a set of three magazine covers featuring her and Richard: DCi News, Cover, and Entertainment Social. Picturing the sweaty desperation of the graphics artist who needed to mock-up a magazine cover but could only be bothered to think of the name Cover is what’s currently getting me through the day. In other Definitely a Plausible Media Outlet news, Amber also sits down for an interview with a late-night program called … Late Talk.

After dropping a hefty expositional montage on her blog readers, Amber signs off with a reminder that she promises to keep everyone updated on the events leading up to her wedding — “on Christmas Day, in Aldovia,” just in case you’d gotten this far into the movie without knowing the premise. Enough with the fantastic fake media outlets, let’s get this thing in gear!

Amber and her father have traveled to Aldovia for her wedding, and I have many questions. She’s going to be the queen of this country, she’s flying in for her wedding, and she’s relying on sunglasses to stay anonymous?! She thought she could just hop in on a regular commercial flight and no one would notice? This is Amber, the journalist queen! She was on the cover of Entertainment Social! Also, note: This actor is not the guy who played her original father. They recast Sweet Diner Owner Rudy as someone with a much chewier New York accent!

Obviously, the press finds Amber at the airport and she gets hustled into the royal limos. But this does not happen before a snappy Indian guy denies her the cab she tries to hail. I wonder if we’ll see him again!

Amber and her dad get to the castle, and NuRudy immediately takes up his position as uncouth American who marvels at the free mints in the limo and is too physically affectionate. They also try to lampshade Rudy’s recasting with a cutesy comment from Emily about how he used to have a goatee and looks different in person. You can keep selling, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, but I am not buying.

I see Richard Bevan Charlton, king of Aldovia, attended the Bachelor Contestant School of Writing Poems. After Amber reads this card, Richard walks in and says, “It’s a limerick, of sorts.” IT IS NOT A LIMERICK. OF ANY SORT. It has only four lines! You can be as royal as you want, but you cannot just go around claiming a limerick is anything other than a highly structured five-line poem in an anapestic meter with an AABBA rhyme scheme! I don’t think King Richard is very bright, you guys.

Amber gets a lecture from Mrs. Averill, the housekeeper who’s also apparently the Aldovian Head of Communications, about appropriate press behaviors for a future queen. Amber utters a phrase that I will probably need to put in my Twitter bio for a little while: “Blogs, that’s what I do for a living.”

Next we meet Sahil, royal wedding planner, who stole Amber’s cab back at the airport and who only speaks about himself in the third person. He’s planning Amber’s wedding as an “extravaganza of style and taste.” She will be required to wear shoes that Sahil calls “Choo Choos,” which is a baffling line of dialogue. If he’s the fancy, stylish one, wouldn’t he know and care about Jimmy Choo’s real name? Also, why is he surrounded by fawning assistants who look like they were styled to be minor characters from The Hunger Games?

Somewhere in here, there’s also a plot about Emily’s Christmas pageant, but it is extremely dull, and I will spare you further details.

Meanwhile, as Amber suffers through dress fittings with Sahil, Richard’s plan to modernize Aldovia with “infrastructure” and “tech” is resulting, somehow, in giant protests where people shout, “What about our jobs?!” and hold signs that say “no more layoffs!” One fantastic protest sign reads, simply, “WHY?!”

In the midst of this potential proletariat uprising, a face appears from the past — someone A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is positive we will recognize and who will therefore be meaningful to us all as an important story development. I would swear to you that I have never seen this person before in my life.

Amber’s dad goes down to the kitchens to give the royal chef a talking-to about how gross Aldovian food is. She is wildly nonplussed, as would I be if I’d worked my way up to being head chef for a royal family and some random diner owner showed up to lecture me about my menus.

OH, DANG! The person whose identity I totally forgot is Simon, the guy who tried to overthrow Richard in the first movie! He walks into the palace and there’s a truly remarkable zoom sequence when he shows up, and then … nothing happens. Simon asks to hang around for a while, and Richard dourly agrees because it’s Christmas. Sure!

Amber is not thrilled with Sahil’s design for her wedding dress. She just wants to be herself!

Oh, noooo, Richard and Amber were going to go pick out a Christmas tree for the palace courtyard, but it gets canceled when the plebs rise up and demand to be paid. What a bummer! It’s also a bummer for Princess Emily, whose pageant rehearsal is shut down because the “theater workers” have “gone on strike in solidarity.” I promise I am telling you as little about this pageant as I possibly can.

Richard is upset because the country’s financial situation is really bad, what with the massive labor strike, and he can’t figure out why. But traitorous cousin Simon, whom he let back into the castle for no reason at all, suggests a cryptocurrency option! Also, Richard’s mom brought in some dude named Lord Leopold who’s going to fix everything right up.

This is the man in charge of the entire Aldovian economy. Anyhow, Amber finally picks out a tree for the palace courtyard, and then everyone goes tobogganing. Then there’s the pageant, which I am telling you about only because afterward Emily decorates cookies with the other kids and Amber blogs about it.

A banner entry for Amber’s Blog, which appears to be powered by a default WordPress template: “Christmas Spirit Has Overtaken the Palace.”

Except this time, the palace has decided that Amber’s blog is a breach of protocol, and they take the whole thing down. Even though, as Amber points out, it was trending. Trending! But Mrs. Averill has no respect for its “tons of positive comments!” “I seriously doubt that traditional protocols were set up for viral social media,” Amber says about her blog, which is somehow not an Instagram account.

Speaking of images and the importance thereof, Amber and Richard pose for their royal portrait and Amber haaaates it. Sahil says her necklace is wrong, and Amber’s all ticked because it was a locket with a picture of her mother. Richard, a man who wouldn’t know a limerick if it got shipped to him from Nantucket, doesn’t stand up for her. Between this and her blog being taken down, Amber’s patience is wearing thin.

On the eve of the wedding, Amber’s friends, neither of whom have names, fly into Aldovia for the wedding. Instead of wild bachelorette festivities, Amber insists they spend the night investigating whatever’s going awry with the Aldovian economy. My understanding of national economies is that they tend to sink and float on more than the mechanics of a simple whodunit, but Amber’s gonna don dark sunglasses at nighttime and snoop around anyhow.

Amber, the sunglasses trick didn’t work when you flew into the airport — what makes you think they’ll work now? I also have several questions about Aldovia, sparked by this brief scene of them walking down the sidewalk and hanging out in this bar. How big is Aldovia? Does it have multiple major cities? Why is the national language English? Why do they all have vaguely, unevenly British accents? What’s the currency? Why does the prime minister show up for one useless scene? Are there no non-state-run businesses? What do they think of Brexit?

Amber conducts an improbably useful interview with one working man, and then takes detailed notes.

After some cursory Googling, Amber decides that she needs more information on a company called Meadowlark. Then Emily rolls in and announces that she “knows a thing or two about hacking.” “If I can create a network interface that catches the traffic to the legitimate server, I can backdoor the access,” says the character who, half an hour ago, pouted about not having a Christmas tree.

With petulant child/probable 4chan enthusiast Princess Emily “hacking” all night to break into the Hall of Records, Amber and her friends have a “bachelorette party.” The friends still do not have names, so let’s call them Black Girl Friend and Gay Guy Friend. In what must be one of the saddest party montages ever made, Amber and Black Girl Friend celebrate Amber’s upcoming wedding by painting Gay Guy Friend’s toenails.

Amber, what did I say about the sunglasses! Mrs. Averill is so upset at this breach that she insists that Amber desist “any activity pertaining to [her] blog, immediately.” King Richard, human mothball, finds himself speechless, and Amber storms out.

No one can find Amber! Richard runs around outside in the snow yelling, “Amber! Amber!” and the camera spins around him in circles. Eventually, Richard hops on a horse and gallops across the countryside until he finds Amber in the exact same cozy cottage they used for a heart-to-heart at this same point in the first movie.

Once he gets to the cottage, Richard says that Amber shouldn’t have to sacrifice her blog to be queen. (I’m paraphrasing here, but only barely.) Cool, time to head back to the castle!

Richard announces to the assembled family that somehow Lord Leopold managed to steal just the right amount of money to tank the entire Aldovian economy without anyone noticing. Amber threatens to shoot an arrow at him! And then Leopold gets thrown in the dungeon. Aldovia: where nobody really knows whether it’s 2006 or 1706, but it sure isn’t 2018.

Richard gives a public address about how the corruption’s all fine now and everyone in Aldovia gets a Christmas bonus (how many people live in this country?!), so now it’s wedding time! This screenshot is an excuse to remind you that the woman who plays Richard’s mother is Alice Krige, a.k.a. QUEEN OF THE BORG.

After uncovering the dastardly threat to Aldovia, Amber is allowed to pick her own wedding clothes, including bedazzled sneakers. Her dad gets to serve sliders at the reception. The stakes of this movie are very low.

Amber is pronounced “Queen Amber of Aldovia.” Everyone claps, Amber and Richard do not smash cake into each others’ faces, cousin Simon almost certainly hooks up with Black Girl Friend, and Sahil maybe hooks up with Gay Guy Friend.

The final image of this movie is so, so weird: Amber and Richard sneak out into the courtyard so they can make out in private for once, and then the whole wedding reception comes out and does a conga line around them. The peppy conga music morphs into triumphant closing trumpet cadences, but the conga line continues! This is supposed to be … cute? Romantic? Think about how bizarre it would be if, at your own wedding, you ran outside to get a break and the entire reception followed you out into the snow, laughing and yelling, “CONGA!” And then you just stood there and kept kissing.

I guess it could be a metaphor for the whole Christmas Prince story, something about performance and the tension of private selves versus public duty and learning to be comfortable under really strange displays of mannered jollity?

Or it’s just a massive shrug to end this massive shrug of a holiday movie. So long, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, and thanks for all the limericks.

A Christmas Prince 2 Is Just As Ridiculous As the Original