An early Christmas present for rom-com fans
From left: Shameik Moore, Matthew Noszka, Anna Akana, Jacob Batalon, Odeya Rush, Kiernan Shipka, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope and Isabela Merced, stars of the movie
Photo courtesy of Eric Charbonneau
An early Christmas present for rom-com fans
Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Netflix has an early Christmas present to all rom-com fans with the release of the acclaimed adaptation of the John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle bestselling novel, Let it Snow.

Made in the same tradition as many beloved holiday classics including Love, Actually, the movie is set during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve and revolves around the lives of a group of high school seniors who find themselves in a middle of a mini-storm in their lives when their relationships are redefined, hearts get broken, romances bloom and friendships get tested. They also discover the importance of family even if, for young people at least, just a chance to party is more than enough.

Jacob as Keon, a frustrated party guy whose only wish is to throw the biggest Christmas party of the year
Photo courtesy of Netflix

There are a lot of colorful and lovable characters to root for in the film including a stranded pop star, a squad of competitive dancers, a mysterious woman covered in tin foil, a lovestruck teen who can’t tell his best friend that he’s in love with her, two Harry Potter fans who can’t express their affection for each other openly and many others.

And just like the holiday classics the movie drew inspiration from, Let it Snow also features a cast of fresh-faced and diverse next-gen talents ready to take Hollywood to the future. The all-star cast includes Isabela Merced, Anna Akana, Matthew Noszka, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka and Jacob Batalon.

This writer had a brief chat with two of the cast members, Isabela and Jacob, last week at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. We talked about Christmas (of course) and the importance of family and friends.

But first, both Isabela and Jacob noticed my jacket emblazoned with Filipino imagery when we settled in for the interview.

“That’s amazing, man, I really appreciate that,” Jacob, who is Filipino, said when I told them that I wore it for him.

Jacob grew up in Hawaii in a traditional Filipino household. “Pretty traditional with karaoke and everything,” he quickly declared.

And his Christmases in Hawaii have been fun. “I don’t have too many memorable Christmases but I am just at home with my family in general around that time. It would always be raining in Hawaii so we would celebrate indoor and (we are) forced to bond with each other and that forced bonding makes for really interesting holidays.”

He may not have had many memorable Christmases but there’s someone who makes every Christmas memorable for him. “My mom was a single mom for a while. She’s great. I feel like she’s done a lot of things on her own. She’s beat herself up and brought herself back up and everything. I feel like she’s taught me a lot about how life is really, really difficult but you can still persevere and be a great person. She’s really crazy but she stands for a lot of great things.”

“Aww, I want to meet her!” Isabela exclaimed after Jacob’s sweet tribute to his mom.

The beautiful actress, who most recently headlined Dora and the Lost City of Gold, also said beautiful things about her mom and her family.

“Family is everything,” she stressed. “Without my family, I would have some identity crisis.”

“My mom raised me like that and maybe it’s the culture, we make sure to see each other, all the second cousins even, every weekend, we get together. My grandparents loved to procreate and they made 13 babies and so I have many cousins!”

Isabela is also looking forward to celebrating her first Christmas in Los Angeles this year although when she looks back, her most memorable Christmas was the year she got “Pluto,” her dog.

“I have never seen my family that close and happy about something at the same time,” she said. “Normally, we put zero effort into the presents we give each other but everyone got him a present and I have never had a dog before so were all so close for a brief moment.”

It should be noted that in Let it Snow (spoiler alert) one of the characters (not Isabela) gifted her best friend a pig for Christmas.

In the movie, Isabela plays Julie, a confused teenager who is hiding a secret from her family when she has a chance encounter with Stuart, a runaway music superstar stuck in the town due to the storm.

Jacob, meanwhile, plays Keon, a frustrated party guy whose only wish is to throw the biggest Christmas party of the year until the snowstorm happens. In real life though, Jacob says he’s not like Keon.

“I think I like any excuse to just not do anything!” Jacob stated.

Isabela is different, “I just like any excuse to have a party!”

“I feel like as a person, just being an adult for the last two weeks, I feel like it has been really hard for me. I like to party but not as much as Keon, I guess,” Jacob added.

One of the drawbacks of having a career in Hollywood is the constant demand to travel and actors are forced to relocate and be away from their best friends.

“I don’t really have too many,” Jacob responded. “I maybe have only four people in my circle. We’re cool.”

Isabela is down to three from four, according to her. “The best people, the best friends understand your schedule and they want to see you thrive.”

Towards the end of our interview, I surprised Isabela by informing her that I saw her first film (The House that Jack Built — not the Lars Von Trier version) when it was shown as an opening night film at the LA Film Festival in 2014. It was a small, independent film that never got a wide release and I told her she’s gone a long way since then.

“Wow, that’s so crazy! You saw my first film!” she exclaimed and told me “Thank you, I feel the love.”

Let it Snow is streaming on Netflix. Watch it and feel the love.

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