Romance flicks guaranteed to make your heart flutter on Christmas

Kata Dayanghirang - Philstar.com
Romance flicks guaranteed to make your heart flutter on Christmas
Movie posters of "Holidate" and "The Princess Switch"

MANILA, Philippines — There's something about Christmas and romance. You surely have noticed that a lot of Christmas-themed romances have been released, in time for that Christmas eve, the day-after or the days-leading-to-New-Year binge-watching. 

Recently, a couple of these releases feature strong heroines who aren't necessarily looking for love, and seriously can live by themselves, but ended up empowering themselves more, with the bonus of true love in tow. 

So, here's a round-up of these fairly new Christmas-themed romance movies that you might want to check out. We're referencing classic titles that are not necessarily Christmassy but gives all the mushy feelings for those good old romantics out there. 

'Holidate' starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey

Now, this is a surprise treat. This could have been released in theaters and can make a decent box-office return. A sharp-tongued, uncensored girl meets a happy-go-lucky, green-juice drinking, commitment-phobe pro-golfer. Sloane (Emma) and Jackson (Luke) are done with being "alone" every single holiday. When Sloane's hot Aunt Susan, played by the perky Kristin Chenoweth, brings up the idea of a "holidate," it pushes them to a year-long, no-sex hook-up. 

Yes, the movie goes full-circle starting from when they met at Christmastime to ending it at the same time one year later. At least the romance is not encapsulated in the what-seems to be standard a-month-before Christmas happy ending. 

Every "holiday" scene is a visual treat, from New Year, St. Patrick's Day and Easter, and can be a source of costume inspiration for when the pandemic ends and parties are going to be allowed again. Sure, everyone who had seen it will remember that "Dirty Dancing" meets "Carrie" moment in the movie. No, it's not horror but it will surely elicit guffaws at the hilarity of the situation. 

It's the screenplay by Tiffany Paulsen that does the trick with its witty comebacks between Sloane and Jackson, and that "confession" scene

that is standard snarky Sloane but still lovable. 

"Holidate" gets an above-average rewatch value, the type you'd want to watch during downtimes or most especially going through a hard break-up because it makes you wish that even though you might be a Sloane at that crazy moment, at least, she still gets a happy ending with a hot guy with an equally crazy humor and temperament. 

'A California Christmas' starring real-life couple Josh and Lauren Swickard

Who says real-life couples can't work together? Apparently, Josh and Lauren are the exceptions. 

Chemistry is no brainer for the "Roped" co-stars as they essay the roles of tough farm girl Callie Bernet and good-for-nothing playboy Joseph Van Aston. 

Written by Lauren, the story is cliche and predictable but it works. How? It's going to have a sequel titled "California Christmas: City Lights," set to be another holiday rom-com. 

It's got the same vibe with the classic "A Walk In The Clouds," starring a dashing Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon. But the 1995 Alfonso Arau film is written better and shot more beautifully. Plus, the romance is more profound and heartfelt. 

The setting of "A California Christmas" is as warm as that of the classic movie, without it being a period piece. All those vast fields that stretch for miles, a glimpse of ranch life and a storyline that features wines set in Northern California dashed with a little family drama -- definitely makes up for the incredulity of how a tough girl was able to rein the wandering ways of a rake and turn him into a responsible guy with a heart of gold in less than a month. 

'Operation Christmas Drop' starring Kat Graham and Alexander Ludwig

A well-loved, do-gooder Air Force Captain meets a take-charge congressional aide from Washington D.C. Erica (Kat) is willing to do anything to grab that chief-of-staff post in the office of Congressman Bradford (Virginia Madsen) -- even going to some far-off island in the South Pacific on Christmas week. 

There, she meets the tall and boyish looking Captain Andrew Jantz (Alexander), the poster boy of the base's Operation Christmas Drop, which caught the attention of Bradford who is working on cutting or shutting off bases as her next project. 

The bossy girl and quiet-yet-reliable boy storyline reminds one of "The Proposal" which is a good study for stories like this. At first glance, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds might cast doubts regarding their chemistry -- but naysayers are proven wrong when the movie starts playing. It's one of those laugh-out-loud films with an insufferable female lead yet made funny by the circumstances she found herself in. It helps that Sandra is quite a good comedic actress and Reynolds is ever as reliable even in a rom-com flick. Also, Betty White is such a gem and a darling in this classic rom-com. 

In "Operation Christmas Drop," Graham and Ludwig are eye-candies so one would expect for sparks to fly between them. But their chemistry doesn't reach as sky high as those jets that our hero pilot flies. 

But the noble intention behind the film and that tropical Christmas set-up providing events planner some "sustainable, eco-friendly" ideas for next year are among the movie's merits. 

It puts the spotlight on the US Air Force's Operation Christmas Drop, a tradition that started in 1952. It is considered the longest-running humanitarian airlift in the world, supported by the local communities of Guam who give aid to far-flung areas in Micronesia. 

'The Princess Switch' and 'The Princess Switch: Switched Again' starring Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar

It seems like Americans can't wrap their heads around Christmas without having a princess storyline. From a Disney princess, Vanessa Hudgens is becoming a Netflix royalty. After playing the dual roles of a European royalty of some fictional country and an American baker in the 2018 "The Princess Switch," she returns this year playing the same characters, and another one, in "The Princess Switch: Switched Again." 

It's like Vanessa is trying to outdo a much-younger Lindsay Lohan in "Freaky Friday" in this year's sequel. Aside from playing Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro, and Stacy de Novo Wyndham, she's also playing Fiona Pembroke, cousin to Margaret. 

While the first movie sees her falling in love with Sam's Prince Edward Wyndham and Nick's Kevin, the sequel focuses on the ascension of a reluctant Margaret to the throne. She and Kevin have called it quits but romantic Stacy won't have it even if her and Prince Edward's marriage isn't really a wedded bliss. And, thus, you get it -- the switch happens again. Adding complication is Fiona, the obnoxious and broke royal cousin who wants her hands on any dime she can get her hands on. 

Though sometimes Vanessa's British accents for both Margaret and Fiona slip, it's amazing how she's able to establish a connection with two of her leading men. There's a clear distinction when she's Stacy who is in love with Edward, who looks like the white version of Jake Cuenca, and when she's Margaret who is smitten with Kevin, who reminds one of Vanessa's ex, Zac Efron with the curls and beautiful chocolate skin.  

The movie reminds one of Disney's "Princess Diaries" franchise that told the story of an American becoming a princess in some far-off fictional European country. But it's got its charm of its own as it can be a fun rewatch if you're looking for something fun and "princessy" with a "Freaky Friday" twist.   

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