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Review: Christmas Wedding Planner


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Rom-coms have been Netflix’s ‘thing’ this year, from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to Set It Up. People have tuned in in their millions to see simple love stories told well with engaging, charming casts. They’ve been so popular that the sequel to To All the Boys has been announced as a Christmas gift to its many many fans.

The festive rom-com is a genre in and of itself, however, and one which Netflix clearly wanted to get on board with. Last year’s A Christmas Prince has spawned a sequel A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, and even features in another addition to Netflix’s festive offerings, The Princess Switch.

With world-domination of our romance cravings in its sights, then, the outpourings in response to Christmas Wedding Planner on social media must have hurt. It’s been described variously as ‘absolutely horrible’, ‘the worst movie I’ve ever seen’ and likened to ‘medieval torture’. Not quite the season's greetings the streaming giant must have been hoping for.

But bad films are kind of my ‘thing’. I’m the kind of person who, when Channel 5 put on a Meghan Markle Hallmark film comes on TV, I settle down for two hours of fun. I’ve actually watched Hugh Grant’s American Dreamz twice just to make sure it really is dreadful. When a film is described as ‘the worst’, I have to check the veracity of this statement.

So, intrepidly, I set out to watch the worst film ever made.

The premise itself should give you a solid sense of what this is all about: Kelsey is planning her cousin Emily’s wedding when Emily’s ex, Connor, a private investigator, materialises and attempts to convince her to work with him in investigating the fiancé, Todd. Kelsey’s own suspicions throw the two together and ‘hilarity ensues’ – or something like that.

Firstly, it’s true that there is little original material here. Standard romance tropes such as enemies-to-lovers emerge, as Kelsey and Connor, surprise surprise, find they like investigating together rather more than they expected. There are any number of characters whose personalities barely become one-dimensional, let alone anything else, and Kelsey’s USP seems to be that she excels at being just a bit rubbish at most things. The music is cloyingly festive without becoming memorable, things happen for no particular reason, and some of the acting is just straight-up bad.

To outline just a few of the improbable events of the film, Emily’s engagement party seems to take place mere days before the wedding itself, whilst Kelsey, who variously claims to be Emily’s best friend and that they are as close as sisters, seems rather oblivious to Connor’s history with her cousin. As the two grow closer, Emily is actively thrilled by Kelsey’s pursuit of the man who broke her heart, and this is all before the wedding itself which, despite it supposedly being lavish and exclusive, appears to take place in the smallest church known to man.

But hold on just a second. This is all true of most rom-coms, especially those with a festive feel. The protagonists, despite their lack of chemistry, are at least more appealing than any of those in The Holiday, whilst the storyline itself is (largely) more realistic than Love Actually or Serendipity. Aside from the opening meet-cute when Connor swipes the last blueberry scone from underneath Kelsey’s nose, the plot doesn’t rely upon coincidences or bizarre encounters. In theory, these events could happen.

There’s also a grittier side to Christmas Wedding Planner, with Todd’s wealthy family having their privilege quite publically checked at the wedding, and the gulf between rich and poor addressed, if only briefly and tangentially. For those who’ve found Richard Curtis’ holiday movie to be far too white and wealthy, this does at least attempt to offer something different.

So it’s true enough that this won’t be winning any Oscars, with its thin plot, weak acting and schmaltzy soundtrack. Yet I’d struggle to name a festive rom-com that could be considered alongside any Academy-award winners and emerge victorious. It really isn’t the best film ever made, and probably won’t even become a holiday classic, but nor is it the worst. Given that Christmas is a time to relax, clear your mind, and generally veg out, there are much worse ways you could spend your time than watching Christmas Wedding Planner.

Christmas Wedding Planner is available on Netflix.

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