Netflix’s flagship feel-good Christmas series kicks off with another comfortably cheesy romp.
Now that the Christmas season is upon us, it’s time to dive once more into the Netflix Cinematic Christmas Universe with the latest installment of its insane holiday series, A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby. So tie those Converse extra-snug; it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
We join Amber (Rose McIver) one year after The Royal Wedding. She might be Queen of Aldovia, but she’s still a
blogger journalist at heart, and fills her readers in on what she’s been up to… state dinners, honeymoons in Greenscreenlandia, and biking around the city without bodyguards. She is beloved by the young, ethnically diverse population of Aldovia, and has taken to monarchy like a duck takes to water. The country is booming economically and Amber is sporting a new Grace Kelly cut. Most exciting of all, Amber and Richard (Ben Lamb) are expecting their first baby on January 11 (which is perfect because Capricorns make great rulers).
While The Royal Baby makes some efforts at showing the baby mania that surrounds royal pregnancies, you get only the faintest of whiffs of what Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton went through. It’s true this movie could have made a statement on the media’s feeling of ownership of these women’s pregnancies and their bodies, but if you’ve come to Netflix for bold political statement-making, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby maybe wasn’t the best choice. These movies are safely directed (courtesy of John Schultz), with predictable twists and happy endings, cheesy production value and winking, self-referential in-jokes. They’re as comfortable as one of King Richard’s beige cardigans.
The formula is mixed up a bit with the arrival of King Tai (Kevin Shen) and Queen Ming (Momo Yeung) of Penglia, a vaguely Asian country that once fought Aldovia over Silk Road trading routes. A truce was called in 1419 thanks to the Christmas Spirit, because of course. Cut an Aldovian and they bleed red and green.
King Tai and Queen Ming are a welcome addition to this franchise, which has remained mostly white despite a decent roster of minority side characters. It would be too easy to Other them, make them the distrusting outsiders, but they’re portrayed as kind, curious, open and friendly. There’s some handwringing by Queen Ming about progress vs. tradition, and it would have been nice for her to be more assertive about her place in the monarchy. But as previously stated, there is nothing revolutionary to be found here.
Tai and Ming have come to Aldovia to sign and take possession of the ancient treaty, which is renewed every hundred years, passing back and forth between Aldovia and Penglia. When the treaty goes missing, all Holiday Hell breaks loose. If the treaty isn’t signed, the two countries default to a state of war, despite neither country having a standing army.
Also, there’s a curse that will fall on the firstborn of the country who broke the treaty, so naturally our intelligent and rational blogger investigative journalist Amber is convinced this will happen. The Queen Mum Helena (Alice Krige) tries to reassure Amber, telling her that sorcery “fell out of favor years ago.” Well, so did fanny packs, but those seem to be making a comeback. Richard tells Amber not to worry, that the chance of curse is “infinitesimal.” Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) “helps” by filling Amber in on what the ancient-but-written-in-perfect-English manuscript says. There’s even a woodcut of an Old Crone!
These movies are safe, with predictable twists and happy endings, cheesy production value and winking, self-referential in-jokes.
Once again Simon (Theo Devaney) is made to look like the likely culprit, with an infidelity B-story to boot, but much like Knives Out there are just too many suspects and not enough evidence.
Things get truly bananas from here, with Richard riding his horse through the wolf-infested forest and giving the audience his best Arya Stark “not today,” Queen Helena and Princess Emily trapped in the castle dungeon, the ticking clock counting down the minutes to the treaty’s expiration, and the King and Queen of Penglia moments from departing with the treaty still unsigned. Will the treaty be found and the culprit unmasked? Will the curse be avoided and Amber’s baby safely delivered? Will Richard ever put that crib together despite having a whole castle full of servants more skilled than he is? Will she wear her Converse All-Stars in the delivery room? The answers are Yes, Yes, Unclear, and sadly, No.
The comfort and enjoyment of watching A Christmas Prince franchise isn’t in the romance or the monarchy porn. It’s in the knowledge that everything will work out in the end — that the evildoers will be punished, and goodness will be rewarded. And that bloggers, like weeds, can thrive anywhere.
The Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby rides into theaters on a one-horse open baby stroller December 5th.