Hotel for the Holidays available on Freevee through Amazon Prime was brimming with potential. I was stoked when the poster was released, revealing that Mena Massoud (Aladdin) and Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale) were to star in a Christmas film together. Thereby, it’s with tremendous disappointment that we vocalize that the entirety of the film is a massive letdown. But here’s the thing, sometimes, when a movie is awful, it’s almost unbearable to even think about after the credits role. However, as poorly executed as Hotel for the Holidays is, it’s hilarious at all times. (Seriously, we highly recommend watching it with someone like-minded because then it’ll be a blast.)
The film suffers in the hands of too many tropes, cramming every holiday romance storyline thinkable into its short runtime. We have friends-to-lovers, a prince, a singer looking for an escape, a third-act miscommunication with nearly everyone; at one point, someone is crying, and you aren’t sure, and then there’s a hot Santa? None of the character arcs feel believable, and when you think you might go somewhere, a shocking twist throws the kind of curve ball that feels like a joke.
Georgia (Petsch) and Luke (Massoud) are best friends, working in the same hotel, with underlying feelings stirring in both. The initial potential was a delight, and their chemistry was enough to hook us. The story is strong here, but it’s not enough to give the audience a few scenes with them in the beginning, separate them almost entirely throughout the middle, then shove them back together for a kiss that comes out of the left field.
The problem with ensemble storylines is that they generally require either more time to tell proper stories or they need to center around characters that are already established in some way or another, so we aren’t searching for reasons why we should root for them. The inclusion of Prince Raymond (Max Lloyd-Jones) made no sense because we were told to believe in his two-second growth period, while popstar Pandora (Kayleigh Shikanai) stole the entire show in a way that also involved throwing in a trope for the sake of it.
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The characters and their love stories each had potential, but throwing all eggs into one basket only results in cracks and an unnecessary mixture. If Hotel for the Holidays followed the patterns of a romance novel, for instance, we’d first get Georgia and Luke’s story, then say Prince Raymond and Pandora’s, Hunter and AJ’s, then Kiki and Santa’s. But instead, the film pushes us from one whiplash-inducing plot device to another. Still, in all seriousness, while the film, unfortunately, misses the mark, it’s worth watching for a good laugh.
Hotel for the Holidays is streaming on Prime/Freevee