Working as a hotel maid wasn’t what Allie Evans hoped for out of life. But it (mostly) pays the bills — something she’s had to do since she started raising her brother and sister. Though now grown, she’s still a mother and sister to them. Little did she know that a chance run-in with a King could lead to a Crown for Christmas.
As a result of getting fired from the maid position (as was her sister, whom Allie (Danica McKellar) let leave for an audition), Fergus, the king’s butler, arrives with a gift for her having earlier secured the king’s watch. Despite desperately needing the money, Allie declines on principle — the gift is too much. After some pleasantries and a few servings of Mulligan stew, Fergus changes the offer: the money is a 2-week advance on her being the governess to the king’s daughter.
At the castle, Allie is the stereotypical duck out of water. Her New York savvy saves her when she first meets Princess Theodora (Ellie Botterill), who has a rebellious streak. Since Allie has experience with this sort of child (i.e. her younger siblings when they were kids), she more than up for the challenge. Before long, the two form a bond.
Needless to say, King Maximillian III (Rupert Penry-Jones) notices the change in “Teddy”…as well as the woman who orchestrated it. Unfortunately, he has a major problem of his own: his late-father’s adviser is pressuring him to propose to his life-long intended, the Lady Cecil of Luxembourg. Max find the prospect of this arranged marriage to be rather odious, but he doesn’t see an alternative.
After some childish diversions and a few tentative romantic interludes, both the governess and the king find they have a mutual attraction that is being thwarted by palace politics and the weight of tradition. Even so, it’s not a stretch to assume that it will turn out well in the end.
The very first thing I think about this movie is that it made me laugh out loud. While others, even overt comedies, will make me chuckle, sometimes giggle, and occasionally snicker, this one made me laugh out loud — not once, but several times. If I considered nothing else about the movie, that would be enough. But wait…there’s more.
I will admit that this movie won me over. While it appears to be yet another pauper-in-the-palace romance, it does something importantly different: it’s not about the hearts of the adults but the fragile heart of a young princess. As a result, the other feelings that evolve among the other adults now feel earned. The stories between Allie and Maximillian and Allie and the staff are always secondary to the story between Allie and Teddy.
The score was largely unobtrusive, although I have to give a kudo to using the almost stock “wicked princess” theme that announced the arrival of Lady Celia. Celia was predictably goal oriented, as was Chancellor Riggs, but it never got so out of hand that it was boorish.
Probably the biggest relief was that the story concluded with only the promise to nurture Allie and Max’s budding relationship. No overt proposal. No wedding. Just an expectation that a bright future might happen. For some stories, you need the pomp, but for this one, keeping it on a level keel was what it deserved.
Crown for Christmas is a well-crafted and well-performed light romance. It is solidly entertaining, sometimes predictable and sometimes not, and gets the most out of the characters. I don’t know that it will click with everyone, but it certainly did with me. I recommend spending some time with it.
|4.25 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Gabriel Hennessey