For the past couple of decades, the rom-com has been sorely missing one crucial element: the genre’s golden child. Indeed, 1990s favorite comedic leading lady, Lindsay Lohan, hasn’t appeared in one in almost a decade. So when it was announced that she was officially on board for Janeen Damian’s feature directorial debut, Netflix’s newest holiday jaunt Falling for Christmas, fans young and old naturally erupted with excitement.
Falling for Christmas stars Lohan as Sierra Belmont, a spoiled, wealthy heiress to a hotel empire. Things are going well in her dazzling world until her vain influencer beau, Tad (George Young), takes her on a snowboarding soirèe and the two get into an accident. Next thing Sierra knows, she is at the bottom of a snowy hill with a big bump on her head and no memory of how she got there, or who she is.
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One of the biggest tragedies of the modern age is that big-budget rom-coms have become almost obsolete. While back in the good ol’ days (the 2010s, even), films like Just Go With It and 50 First Dates were equipped with a healthy budget of around $80 million, present-day rom-coms are not given the same royal treatment, and tend to go straight to streaming and fly mostly under the radar as a result. Which is why, when the world caught news that ‘90s and early-2000s rom-com darlings Julia Roberts and George Clooney were co-starring in a $60 million rom-com bound for a coveted and increasingly scarce theatrical release, one couldn’t help but anticipate that it marked the genre’s exhilarating renaissance. Alas, this exciting prospect only makes the crushing disappointment that is Ticket to Paradise that much more devastating.
Ticket to Paradise follows the impossibly debonair David (Clooney) and his quick-witted gallerist ex-wife Georgia (Roberts), who loathe one another to a comical degree. The exes are dead-set on avoiding one another for the rest of eternity, but as life (or rom-com plots) goes, they are forced to come together when their aspiring-lawyer daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) announces she is moving to Bali to marry seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier), whom she met on a post-grad vacation. In a desperate attempt to stop their daughter from making the same catastrophic mistake they did a couple decades prior, David and Georgia travel to Bali. Hilarity ensues.
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Just when you thought the most Hallmark-y movie of all time had already been made, along comes A Perfect Pairing — a film about a go-getter wine connoisseur who treats herself to a stay-cation at an idyllic Australian ranch, (complete with a hunky Australian ranch-hand, of course), in an effort to convince the head of a wine empire to be her new company’s first client. The sprightly self-starter in question is Lola (Victoria Justice), and the hunky (oh – and I forgot to mention mysterious) Australian is Max (Adam Demos, whose steaminess already stole our hearts once before in Netflix’s Sex/Life).
The thing that I’ve learned about rom-coms is, even when they’re predictable, sloppily made or poorly acted, it’s pretty hard to make one that’s not at least a little bit entertaining and/or engrossing. Really think about it. How often has a will-they-won’t-they plotline completely failed to tickle your interests at least slightly? On how many occasions has that final, long-awaited kiss not managed to resuscitate the inner romantic you stow away, even for a fleeting moment? Indeed, making a rom-com that’s flat-out uninteresting and laborious is a pretty impressive feat. But now and then, such an impressive feat is achieved. Most recently, it was presented in the form of F*ck Love Too, a follow-up to the poorly-received 2019 Dutch comedy F*ck de liefde, directed by Appie Boudellah and Aram van de Rest.
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