Holiday Watch: A Princess For Christmas

This is one movie I’m not going to beat around the bush about—it’s a delightful holiday fairy tale that is tender without the treacle, a fantasy while still being grounded, and doesn’t take itself so seriously that it loses its ability to be unashamed entertainment. A Princess For Christmas is a fun melting pot that takes the familiar and creates its own magic.

Katie McGrath plays Jules Daly, the smart and loving aunt and guardian of Milo and Maddie, who were orphaned the year before when both their parents were killed in an accident. The trio is whisked off to Castlebury to spend the holidays with the children’s grandfather, Edward the Duke of Castlebury (Sir Roger Moore), who had cut-off and estranged Milo and Maddie’s parents because their father had the audacity to marry a commoner. Once at the castle, Jules makes the acquaintance of the children’s uncle, Ashton Huntington Prince of Castlebury (Sam Heughan). From then on, family bonding ensues…with a few bumps.

The tone of the movie is a little bit The Princess Diaries (both movies, but mostly the second) with a fair helping of Sabrina (the 1995 version, which I prefer over the 1954 edition). Carrying the tone is Katie McGrath. Her Jules feels like the happy blending of Kat Dennings, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Winslet. The character is amazingly, unaffectedly grounded for this sort of fantasy romance and is a big reason why this movie stands out from the crowd.

I often rail about the third leg in a romance triangle being obviously the wrong person for the affections of the love interest. In this case, I didn’t mind so much. Given the class structure played out in the story, the rival, though obviously of the wrong temperament, was an organic character presence.

About the only aspect of the movie that took me out of the story were the parts of the score which were straight out from one of my non-guilty pleasure movies, Practical Magic. Normally I don’t notice the score unless it contains sung songs that are brought to the fore so that they can’t be ignored. In this case, however, the repeating motif was distinctive and identifiable.

Again, I found this to be a very entertaining holiday movie. Yes, it borrows ideas from many other sources, but it isn’t a blatant rip-off of any of them. Watch it on its own merits. I think you’ll be happy you did.

4.25 of 5 

Photo: Copyright 2011 Crown Media Holdings, Inc./Photographer Toni Salabasev

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

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