Questions, Comments, Concerns: A Christmas Prince

Today’s Questions, Comments, Concerns features A Christmas Prince, a Netflix Original Movie that’s really a Hallmark movie for cord-cutters. Mindless, low-quality holiday entertainment isn’t just for people with a cable package! It’s 2017!

Comment: You can tell they’ve got that Netflix budget because of all the establishing shots of New York City.

to be fair they saved some $$ by using the clipart that came preloaded on their PC

On Hallmark, everything takes place in a picturesque small town that’s obsessed with Christmas because that’s the cheaper thing to do.

Comment: “Amber! We’re junior editors! Not writers!”

Dialogue like this is why people think that editor means human spellcheck.

Question: Wait, how can I become a Junior Editor?

Forget that my real rank is above “junior editor.” Amber gets sent abroad to cover a European prince. Nice work if you can get it.

Concern: Netflix spent its whole NYC budget on those establishing shots.

or actually, this is new york’s FINEST diner.

Amber goes into a tiny, empty diner that definitely seems like it’s somewhere in Hallmarkville. It’s her dad’s. He’s a Real New York Character, AKA he has an accent.

Comment: Netflix also spent some Establishing Shot Money on European mountains. Alps?
Concern: By the time they show the lush, snow-covered Swiss? Bavarian? castle, I’m already sold.

I don’t need this to be a GOOD movie, I just need to have a good time watching it.

Comment: Maybe Lead Girl would be a senior editor if she hadn’t showed up to a royal press conference in jeans and sneakers.

non-spoiler: rom-com lady is clumsy. also i have a follow-up question about the white plastic light switch. surely the castle electrician could upgrade that.

Now would be an appropriate time for me to use the terms “slacks” and “pumps.” Yech.

Concerns: Many

Amber gets mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor, Martha.

Question: Can we cut to the part where Emily is vibrant and lovable?

On one hand, A+ for having a child with disabilities as a primary character! On the other, they make her petulant and peevish like that hidden boy in Secret Garden. Collin, was it?

Comment: You know Rose McIver (Lead Girl) from other stuff.

I IMDB’d her because her face was so familiar, and not just because she looks like she’d play Keri Russell’s sister. She’s been in a LOT but I remember her best as the sister in The Lovely Bones.

Comment: We didn’t have to wait long for Emily to get vibrant and lovable.

She’s a cutie.

Concern: My ability to suspend disbelief.

For a split second I start questioning how Amber is pulling this off, whether there are visa implications, the scads of journalistic ethics violations… and then I relax into the soft fluff of A Christmas Prince like a child making a snow angel.

Comment: Cousin Simon’s no Prince Richard, but could still get it.

Richard though.

Concern: Male primogeniture, boo.

Princess Emily isn’t in line for the throne and I’m having S1 Downton Abbey flashbacks.

Comment: The cell phone sticking up out of Amber’s back pocket is honestly some of the most realistic costuming I’ve seen.
Concern: We have competition.

Meet Lady Sophia, a hussy in a red dress. You can tell she’s a hussy by the red dress. I don’t make the rules.

Question: Do we know for absolutely sure that Princess Emily’s not a Little Girl Ghost (TM Joey Tribbiani)?

Emily discovers Amber’s true identity and barters to keep Amber’s secret as long as she writes the truth about Richard. Emily says knows because she sneaked into Amber’s unsecured computer, but she seems awfully British and all-knowing …  like a Little Girl Ghost.

Comment: I want Emily the Little Girl Ghost to get a friend who is a child.
Concern: Amber takes Emily sledding

I definitely think that children with disabilities should be encouraged to do anything other kids do (with necessary modifications and safety supports) but I just feel like Amber should’ve at least Googled if it was fine.

[It was fine, by the way.]

Comment: Horse stuff.

There was an equistrian sequence, but we all already knew that going into this. Richard chases off wolves in a page straight out of the Beauty and the Beast storyboards, then they retreat to Gaston’s lounge.

Concern: Prince Rick looks good in a turtleneck.

I don’t hate turtlenecks but it’s such a specific man who can pull it off, right? I know Amber agrees because they almost kiss in a beautiful barn. I could pay off my student loans selling reclaimed wood from this barn. And those are law school loans, ok.

Question: Do they put Christmas lights on actual castles?

Genuine question. I love them but bet royals think they’re naff.

Comment: Prince Richard is a fake!! Prince Richard is a fake!!

Well not FAKE, but he was adopted into the royal family in 1990. I assume there’s a rule about that in most royal families? Also with the giant age gap between Richard and Emily, I like to think this is one of those fake adoptions, like when old-Hollywood actresses would get pregnant, disappear for a year, then “adopt” a baby.

Concern: I was surprised by a plot twist in A Christmas Prince.

I never get surprised in Hallmark movies. Advantage: Netflix.

Amber’s so shocked that she uses the words “gosh” and “freaking.”

Comment: I love Amber’s bedroom with the Christmas tree.

When I was a kid, sometimes I used to pretend I was princess Anastasia and had a room like that. Yes, I know it’s actually Grand Duchess. Yes, I willfully ignored the unpleasant imprisonment and execution angles.

Comment: Richard’s so British (or whatever… Genovian?) he pronounces Sophia “Sophier.”
Comment: Amber wears her converse with her formal outfit…

Just like every group of groomsmen in wedding photos, c. 2010.

Question: Do princes really have a wedding ceremony to their country?

That’s more or less what Richard has. Objections and everything. Reminds me of when Dennis Rodman married himself (I’m old).

Comment: Mean Sophier’s objection was the adoption thing, clearly.
Comment: Richard’s late father hid the truth in an acorn ornament because nobody can be normal in these movies.

My favorite part is how Richard’s dad knew this would all come to a head at Christmas, and that somebody would decipher the secret clue about acorns, and how nobody would crack open or throw away the ornament before this point.

I also don’t see how a note in an ornament is legally binding. He should’ve just changed the code while he was alive. Easy-peasy.

Comment: Aldovia. The country was “Aldovia.”
Comment: The judge or whatever says “Merry Christmas to all,” which is the most Christmas we’ve had in a while.
Question: Why won’t Amber’s editors encourage her to run a piece on this?

They call it a “puff piece” but it looks like an exclusive, walks like an exclusive, sounds like an exclusive, it’s a duck.

Comment: It’s not a romcom unless someone makes a grand gesture at the end.

Richard comes to NY and proposes to Emily. I’m still floored that she works for a publication that thinks this ISN’T a story. He has neither a security detail nor a press following. She accepts.

Comment: A Christmas Prince has one thing in common with Hallmark movies

…. and that’s a couple meeting, falling in love, AND getting engaged all between the start and end of the Christmas season.

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Unexpected Stars of Elf

In November of 2003, I was a teenaged movie theater employee. In addition to sneaking ‘courtesy cups’ of popcorn and Oreo Cream Blast (TM) every shift and taking my friends to free movies, I’d pop into theaters during my breaks to watch some of the better films [ and sometimes, you know, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen or whatever.] I probably saw Elf five times during that ’03 holiday season – albeit in 15-minute snippets. Ten years on, I still love it just as much. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but Elf — eminently charming, extremely quotable, and in my view, one of the best Christmas movies of all time — was released ten years ago this month.

Everyone knows that Elf had some amazing writing and a great soundtrack, but I think the ensemble cast is a big reason that it holds up so well a decade later. Everybody knows Will Ferrell’s Buddy, of course. Elf was also one of the first times anyone noticed a pre-bangs Zooey Deschanel. There are others that everyone will remember: James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, and Mary Steenburgen. But did you realize that all of these folks were in Elf, too? Some of them have been around for decades, and others became famous since Buddy took the journey through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Peter Dinklage — Miles Finch

In Elf: Dinklage played Miles Finch, a grumpy children’s book author and – in Buddy’s view – an “angry elf.”

Outside of Elf: These days, Peter Dinklage is earning major accolades for his work in Game of Thrones. You may also know him from his work as Marlowe Sawyer on Nip/Tuck, Stewart on 30 Rock, and my favorite, Peter Drunklage on SNL.

Faizon Love – Buddy’s Manager

In Elf: He’s the hardworking, exacting Gimbel’s manager who insists on six inch ribbon curls and wants to know why Buddy’s smiling like that. He would like Buddy to make work his new favorite.

Outside of Elf: Love has an extensive resume, mostly character work. Shane in Couples Retreat? That was him. The Perfect Holiday (a Queen Latifah vehicle)? Jamal. Reaching back to pre-Elf times, Faizon Love was Wendell Wilcox on The Parent ‘Hood and Big Worm in Friday.

Amy Sedaris — Deb

In Elf: Deb is Walter’s secretary, who likes to whisper and has such a pretty face, she should be on a Christmas card.

Outside of Elf: Sedaris, of the Comedy Sedarises, has a delightfully nutty sense of humor. My favorites are her Jerri Blank on Strangers with Candy, her great books on entertaining, and all of the stories in her brother David’s books where she wears wacky wigs and fatsuits to freak out their father.

Meghan Black — Elf

In Elf: Brief but memorable role in the Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins sequence.

Outside of Elf: She’s Atlanta on Clash of the Titans, Misty on Dead Like Me, and Kat on Edgemont. I don’t watch any of those, but a lot of people do.

Michael Lerner — Fulton

In Elf: The children’s book editor who affirms that even with those two pages, the book would have sucked.

Outside of Elf: You’ve definitely seen Lerner in one of his roles as a classy older guy. For instance: Mel Horowitz in the TV show version of Clueless, Rollie Simone on Hill Street Blues, and Arthur in Hart to Hart.

Will McCormack — Witness

In Elf: Just “Witness.” I seriously cannot remember Will McCormack being in Elf, for all the times I’ve seen it. Time for a re-watch!

Outside of Elf: Ethan in Brothers & Sisters, Skillz in Celeste and Jesse Forever (which he co-wrote with his ex, Rashida Jones), Robert O’Connor in In Plain Sight, and he’s directing an upcoming Chris Messina flick. Not too shabby for an unnamed Elf character.

Andy Richter — Morris

In Elf: Morris worked for Greenway Press, which between James Caan, Amy Sedaris, Peter Dinklage, and Andy Richter, is probably a lot more fun than the publisher I work for (which is GREAT don’t get me wrong fire me).

Outside of Elf: Andy Richter is best known as Conan’s sidekick (/Amy Poehler’s older brother). He’s also been a recurring actor on Arrested Development, voiced plenty of animated projects, appeared as Stan on The New Adventures of Old Christine, and had a memorable role on 30 Rock’s Ludachristmas episode (/Tina Fey’s older brother).

Leon Redbone — Snowman

In Elf: A snowman in the style of 60s Christmas specials, who keeps it real (“You’re 6’3 and had a beard since you were 15,” he tells Buddy).

Outside of Elf: You probably already know that Redbone wears a felt hat and big sunglasses, and has an oldtime-y, Vaudeville-y vibe, But did you know that his real name is Dickran? Dickran, is his name. Rough.

Jon Favreau — Doctor

In Elf: The doctor who doesn’t have any cotton balls any more.

Outside of Elf: I guess this is technically still quite Inside of Elf, but he directed it.

Peter Billingsly — Elf

In Elf: He informs Buddy that he’s pretty off-pace with that Etch-a-Sketch business. It’s almost like he was b0rn to be in Christmas movies.

Outside of Elf: Ralphie in A Christmas Story; an adult man who has to hear “you’ll shoot your eye out kid!” every time he is just trying to run to the grocery store to buy a damn carton of milk.