Monday, December 2, 2019

McSteans Guest Post! Holiday Watch: The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

Watched:  12/1/2019
Format:  Netlfix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Jamie came out of right field and asked if I wanted to live-blog a Netflix Christmas movie with she and her pal, Angel.  Well, of course I did, it looked terrible.  But I figured this whole deal was more Jamie's thing than your usual Signal Watch programming, so she should also write up the movie.  So, without further ado...
                                                                                                                - your host, Ryan

Last weekend, to kick off the holidays, Ryan and I (mostly Ryan) Christmassed up the house and then capped it off with a viewing of the Netflix Hallmark-style movie, The Knight Before Christmas (2019). Joined by my overseas friend Angel (hi, Angel!), we took to Twitter and made it a three person live-blogging extravaganza.

Woof. I don’t know that my expectations for this film were sky high, but I was honestly disappointed in Netflix. I’ve seen some decent original content there recently, and they’re not bad with romantic comedies. With the Hallmark channel turning into a holiday movie factory churning out cookie cutter romantic fluff, I felt that Netflix should be able to take a slightly higher concept plot, more money and talent, and produce something at least slightly entertaining. Silly me. It felt exactly like they took a discarded Hallmark movie and threw in some time travel to attract attention, then did nothing with it.

The Knight Before Christmas stars Vanessa Hudgens, a perfectly adequate actress for such a role and certainly personable, as well as a bunch of actors I’d never seen before, including our male lead, Josh Whitehouse. I don’t necessarily fault the actors, they seemed to be doing the best they could with an embarrassingly weak script, but the leads had zippo chemistry.

The premise, fairly obvious from the title, is that a knight from 14th century England meets an “Old Crone” (as she is referred to throughout the film) in the woods. One of the drawbacks of live-tweeting a movie on first viewing is that you don’t pick up on all of the details, even a movie as simple as The Knight Before Christmas apparently. I can’t really remember WHY she deems it necessary to care what happens to Sir Cole, but she sends him hurtling through time and space in search of some unspecified goal. It’s that typical “you’ll know it when you find it” business that writers in a hurry love.

Sir Cole finds himself in present day Ohio (sure, why not) and meets Brooke, a teacher with a ridiculously large house for a teacher. They hang out and yadda yadda yadda, fall in love. That’s it. That’s the movie. If you’ve seen a Hallmark Christmas movie before, you know how this goes. Aside from mild confusion at his surroundings and a mercifully short scene where Sir Cole learns modern slang from Brooke’s Amazon Alexa, the dude is remarkably unphased by the entire series of events. The guy should have been screaming about witchcraft at his first glance of Christmas lights and Hondas.

The real nutjobs in this tale are our modern day Ohioans, whose reactions to Sir Cole’s claims range from questioning but not concerned all the way to our heroine, Lady Brooke, who is ready to have this crazy weirdo crash at her place until….well that is unclear. She seemed all ready for him to move in. Brooke needs a refresher course on stranger danger. I honestly spent the majority of this film trying to psychoanalyze our leading lady because it was evident she was not okay.

The real star of this picture, and the only character I cared to see continue on further adventures was Brooke’s student, Paige. Paige and Brooke share a touching scene in the beginning where they sympathize about boys and Brooke gives her good advice about focusing on herself and her own goals instead of the boy who is giving her troubles. And in true Hallmark Christmas movie-style, Brooke then learns the true meaning of love and has a change of heart. Her second encounter with Paige towards the end has her declaring that she was WRONG and Paige should follow her heart! At the tender age of 12! Props to Shanice Johnson for her hilarious “my teacher might be craaaaaazyyyyyyy” face. My hope is for a sequel where Paige gets the hell out of Snowglobe Village, Ohio and makes a name for herself.

Anyway, for a movie involving time travel, the plot is razor thin. These two crazy kids at some point figure out that they’re in love I guess? Like I said, the chemistry is absent and it seems like a very bad combination of a person starved for attention and one who is meeting a lady who smells good and has all of her teeth. Sir Cole is then sent back to Ye Toiletless Times because he has Found Love! Goal achieved! Then he’s home all of 5 minutes of screen time before he decides he misses hot and cold running water….I mean, he misses What’s Her Name. He’s sent back to modern Ohio. The End.

It’s unclear what a man with a 14th century education will do for an occupation in 2019. There’s always Renaissance Fair and Medieval Times I suppose. The traditional Hallmark “baking” scene is replaced here by Brooke and Cole whipping up what appears to be 30 loaves of bread for some reason, so I guess he could work in a bakery if he learns how to wash his hands.

To sum up: you can skip this one. You’re welcome. Go watch Santa Jaws.

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