While Netflix’s brand last year was royals, we’re diving into the celebrity (or the socialite) and normal person trope this year. And while I’m generally not a fan of either trope, Christmas With You gets all my respect for finally giving us an emotional romance between 40+-year-old characters. More of this, please. Always.
In the hands of lesser-skilled actors, Netflix’s Christmas With You would be a bit much where the fast-paced romance is concerned. But bring in someone as charming as Aimee Garcia (Lucifer) and 90s romantic-comedy heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr. (She’s All That), and you’ve got a cheesy gem with catchy music and an exploration of grief.
While it’s nearly impossible to believe that a pop star would visit her fan out of the blue after hearing a cover, the heart of this story lies in the community of a family. It’s about moving forward after grief takes hold of you and opening your heart to the idea of letting people in, even if the world might take them away. This theme is where the film thrives and works despite the celebrity and average person trope generally being less believable than others.
It’s easy to sense Angelina’s (Garcia) desperation for an escape after heightened demands while she swims through the waves of grief, and it’s easy to believe Miguel’s (Prinze Jr.) openness. Yes, he’s doing it for his daughter, Cristina (Deja Monique Cruz), but because grief also shadows him, it’s effortless to sense where their connection is coming from.
Further, Miguel’s family opening their home to Angelina and Monique (Zenzi Williams) worked beautifully to showcase what family means during the holidays. The incorporation of Latine culture throughout the film made it feel that much cozier, raw, and honest. Thereby, when the entire family fell for Angelina, as she simultaneously fell for all of them, it made the romance more authentic. It was no longer about a couple but about a family working through their losses and gains together.
Netflix’s Christmas With You also leaves us with great songs to add to our holiday playlists. We get three songs featuring Aimee Garcia and a stunning Spanish number by Jasmine Lopez. Sometimes, singing in Christmas films doesn’t work, even when it’s part of the narrative, but in this film, it adds an extra layer of magic that the story would feel incomplete without.
The music bleeds into the romance and the heartaches of grief beautifully, allowing the emotions to feel more transparent. If Garcia’s character was an actress instead of a singer, the celebrity element might not have worked the same, but because she connects with Cristina through a song that highlights grief, it works beautifully to tell a universal story. It allows us to suspend disbelief to dive into a story that brings warmth through love and empathy.
Similar Christmas Film Recommendation: Reindeer Homecoming Games and The Noel Diary
Aimee Garcia and Freddie Prinze Jr. do an exceptional job of bringing some vulnerable performances to our screens, while Deja Monique Cruz holds her own incredibly alongside them. (I could’ve done without the PR boyfriend going in and out, but that’s neither here nor there.) Grief never leaves us, but sometimes, second chances make the heartaches feel more bearable and the beautiful moments worthwhile again—that’s the heart of this story, and it’s where it succeeds.
Christmas With You is now streaming on Netflix.