Binge and Repeat: Netflix and Hulu stream new festive original films

Streaming platforms aren’t oblivious to fervent joy the public takes in watching holiday movies. While Hallmark and Lifetime dominate the holiday movie scene, Netflix and Hulu have presented viewers with a handful of bright and jolly films.

Here’s a rundown of the new 2020 holiday films from Netflix and Hulu.

Holidate

Emma Roberts and Australian actor Luke Bracey take on this holiday rom-com where two lonely hearts meet after christmas while trying to exchange ill fitting gifts. From there the two decide to have a platonic New Years Eve outing together as each others “holidates.” The pals carry on the tradition throughout all the remaining holidays in the year until their strictly platonic arrangement crosses a line into becoming something much more. This is a classic romantic comedy with a fun and fluffy ending, while the laughs appeal to a wider crowd.

Audience members are sure to have a good time watching the couple celebrate a variety of holidays from St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Labor Day and more together. While the film does revolve around a number of holidays, at its heart it is a Christmas film as the holly-decked holiday functions as the beginning and end of the story.

“Holidate” is available on Netflix.

Happiest Season

Kristen Stewart and Dan Levy’s highly anticipated holiday film revolving around a lesbian couple during the holiday season originally looked like it would be a spectacular film. Instead it turns out that “Happiest Season” is more humbug than holiday cheer as Harper (played by Mackenzie Davis) invites her girlfriend Abby (Stewart) home for the holidays...only to tell her that her family doesn’t know she’s a lesbian and asks Abby to hop back in the closet during their visit. Harper’s family puts Abby through the ringer, repeatedly acting like she’s Oliver Twist because her parents are deceased and they treat her like a bit of unwanted furniture foisted on them by a distant relative. In addition to asking Abby to lie about who she is, she also ditches her throughout the film and behaves in a prickly manner. The one bright spot of this film is Levy, who steals every scene he’s in. While “Happiest Season” is populated with a talented cast, the film itself is a bit heavier as Harper’s fear of coming out makes the trip pretty miserable for Abby.

While “Happiest Season” isn’t as romantic as a traditional rom-com (given that Harper ignores Abby for most of the film) it is a comical take on Christmas festivities.

“Happiest Season” is available on Hulu.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

In a similar vein to “The Greatest Showman,” Netflix’s musical “Jingle Jangle” is defined by its brilliant music and choreography. The film tells the story of Jeronicus Jangle (played for Forest Whitacker), a great inventor and toy maker whose dreams are dashed away after his apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his book of inventions and profits off Jernonicus’s brilliance. After the theft, Jeronicus’s zest for invention crumbles away until his bright and innovative granddaughter, Journey, comes in to help him believe again. “Jingle Jangle” is an absolute treasure that can be enjoyed by the whole family as the film’s magic centers around believing in possibility and the importance of family. It should be noted the film’s writer and director David E. Talbert spent 20 years trying to bring this film to audiences and viewers can certainly feel the love that was poured into this vibrant production.

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” is available on Netflix.

The Princess Switch: Switched Again

In the sequel to “The Princess Switch” audiences see Vanessa Hudgens taking on three roles, playing three different aristocratic characters this time around. This cheesy holiday film picks up two years after the events of the first film. Stacey is married to her prince and Margaret has split from Stacey’s best friend, Kevin, after learning she’s to take her own throne. Stacey plots to get Margaret and Kevin back together, but Margaret’s cousin Fiona decides she wants to take Margaret’s throne to give her wallet a much needed cash infusion. As three characters end up switching roles, chaos inevitably ensues leading to a number of laughs. However, one has to wonder about the accents Hudgens uses for her two faux European characters...as they are rather odd. The film is light and fluffy and it is perfect for virtual group watching with family and friends.

“The Princess Switch: Switched Again” is available on Netflix.

Christmas on the Square

Regina (played by the talented Christine Baranski) decides to sell her hometown after her father’s death, much to the chagrin of the townsfolk who don’t want their homes turned into a mall. Dolly Parton as a guardian angel swoops in to try and change Regina’s heart by making her understand her own tragic past. This musical holiday film is spectacularly hokey as the set looks more like a play than a film and it features a musical number every minute or so. “Christmas on the Square” also offers the ridiculous as it has a child bartender, Dolly Parton singing on a floating cloud and so much more. The problem with the film is that there is too much going on at any given time and it makes it difficult for viewers to connect with the characters. The film also leans into its cheesier elements and overall was just a very odd holiday film. Unfortunately Baranski’s presence in the film couldn’t save it, so this film might be one viewers should skip. For those looking to watch a Baranski holiday film, Netflix is also streaming “A Bad Moms Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Dolly Parton’s “Christmas on the Square” is available on Netflix.

The Christmas Chronicles 2

Kate and Santa are back in action to save Christmas again. The sequel takes place a few years after the events of “The Christmas Chronicles” finding Kate and her brother Teddy celebrating a tropical Christmas with their mother, her new boyfriend and his anxious son Jack. Kate hates that her mother is moving on and decides to run away, which is spoiled by Jack hitching along for the ride. While Kate and Jack think they’re heading for the airport, the two are startled to discover that they’ve been unwittingly transported to the North Pole. Once there Santa and Mrs. Claus show them around the village and tells them the story of a naughty elf named Belsnickel. While the kids are staying with the Clauses, Belsnickel tries to steal something very important from Santa, which puts Christmas in peril. With only Kate and Jack to save the merry holiday. The film is cute and great for family viewing, even as it deals with heavier topics like Kate’s grief and Jack’s anxiety.

“The Christmas Chronicles 2” is available on Netflix

Operation Christmas Drop

Based on the military’s real Operation Christmas Drop program, Netflix crafts a sugary sweet Christmas film set in the islands around Guam. When a politician’s aid is sent to investigate the program and look for spending inefficiencies on the air base she never expects to fall for the festive spirited captain. While the film is very predictable and follows the Hallmark holiday film formula, “Operation Christmas Drop” makes for a fun and fluffy romp about spending the holidays on the beach. “The Vampire Diaries” Kat Graham stars as Erica and “The Hunger Games” Alexander Ludwig plays Captain Andrew in this sunshiny holiday tale.

“Operation Christmas Drop” is available on Netflix.

tinamarie.craven@hearstmediact.com