12 Days of Netflix: Christmas Wonderland
Ivan | On 18, Dec 2020
“I used to paint and now I do this.” That’s Heidi (Osment) in New York, where she works as an art gallery curator and assistant to her boss. But Heidi didn’t travel to the Big Apple to become an art curator and assistant to her boss. She used to paint, before she did this. Now, she doesn’t paint. She does this. But what if, deep down, she doesn’t want to do this and wants to paint again? And what if her high school sweetheart was meant to be her soul mate after all? And what if he secretly still loves her for what she did do, not what she does do?
These are the kind of questions that are at the heart of Christmas Wonderland, a festive romantic comedy that falls into the classic big-town-person-falls-in-love-with-small-town-life formula that defines the majority of Hallmark Christmas films. This one manages to distinguish itself from the pack by bringing Heidi together with her former flame, leading to some awkward crossed paths that are less meet-cutes and more dissections of regrets and forgotten hopes – conversations about what went wrong and where they went wrong are far more thoughtful than the usual kind of festive chatter you expect from such fare.
Unfortunately, those surprisingly serious-minded ambitions are thwarted by some ear-grating dialogue, which doesn’t manage to bring any substance to what, in another film’s hands, could have been poignant or moving exchanges. Instead, these moments jar with the rest of the movie, which centres on discussions about how to decorate a high school winter prom. How on earth would an artist and a high school teacher find the time in the busiest season of the year to walk away from their jobs and focus on ways to make a hall look snowbally? Well, she used to paint and now she does this. That’s about as much depth as you get from Christmas Wonderland – a film that doesn’t even bear any relationship to its title.
Christmas Wonderland is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.