‘Christmas Inheritance’ fails to subvert the holiday movie formula

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 6:12pm

NOSELL

Netflix

 

Let’s be honest, Christmas movies don’t exactly try to be great films. So why judge the genre as anything but a commercial entertainment factory? To the genre’s credit, the number and popularity of Christmas movies show productivity and the ability to light up the holidays. The 2017 holiday season saw the sudden adoration for “A Christmas Prince,” following a tweet from Netflix that poked fun at its viewers (in a very Big Brother-esque way): “To the 53 people who’ve watched ‘A Christmas Prince’ every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?” Netflix’s other Christmas release “Christmas Inheritance” had more trouble finding an audience.

Ellen Langford (Eliza Taylor, “The 100”) is set to inherit her father’s gift business — whatever that means — but first, she must pass her father’s test. He sends her to his hometown, Snow Falls, to deliver a letter to his former business partner, Zeke (Anthony Sherwood, “Hostile Takeover”). Unfortunately, a storm forces Ellen to stay in the town’s inn longer than expected. In order to pay for her room, she works as a maid for the inn while she tries to complete her task. During her stay, she falls in love with the innkeeper, Jake (Jake Lacy, “Girls”).

“Christmas Inheritance” can’t decide between embracing the not-so-progressive stereotypes of typical leading female roles in the genre and presenting a fully-formed character. As a result, Ellen comes across as both ditzy and incredibly elitist. She falls into Christmas trees, but she’s also a gymnast; she’s deluded enough to expect alcohol service on a bus, but she’s also qualified to be CEO of a huge conglomerate. The contradictions continue. At first, “Christmas Inheritance” at least has a person of color as the main male love interest, but Ellen’s fiancé Grey (Michael Xavier, “The Bold Type”) is a jerk who disappears for the majority of the movie.

Not all Christmas movies end in such low-budget travesty. “Elf” (2003) and “Love Actually” (2003) hold their place on lists of favorite holiday movies for good reasons. Will Ferrell (“Daddy’s Home”) charms and leaves you in tears from laughter with his portrayal of Buddy. The all-star cast of “Love Actually,” which includes Keira Knightley (“Anna Karenina”), Colin Firth (“King’s Speech”), Hugh Grant (“Paddington 2”) and other British actor royalty, also produce charismatic characters to root for or dislike. 

“Christmas Inheritance” tries hard to rise to the level of a mediocre romantic comedy but fails. In the process, the movie also loses audience members as it searches for pure cheesiness. Instead, the plot holes and lack of chemistry between the leads dominate the film. Even the usual heartwarming holiday message to embrace family and love falls short. What’s left is another Christmas movie to never watch until the Hallmark Channel decides to add it to its lineup.