Review of “The Holiday Calendar”

William Sikich

In the modern age, not all movie releases come to us through the magic of the silver screen.  Netflix, among other streaming platforms, has taken to frequently providing us with a collection of their own original films. In particular, Netflix has released an impressive number of romantic Christmas movies over the last year or so, making it something like the Hallmark Channel for young people. On November 2, 2018, Netflix brought us a new little parcel of romance and holiday cheese in its original feature length film, ‘The Holiday Calendar.’
‘The Holiday Calendar’ tells the story of a young photographer and her harrowing struggle to find true love. Well, her struggle to choose between two men who already love her and would do literally anything for her, anyway. Through her strife, an antique advent calendar guides her with magical lights and misshapen toys, and our protagonist starts to notice something strange: her calendar has the power to predict the future! Kind of! I mean, sure, it only works less than a day in advance, which is considerably less accurate than your average calendar. Oh, and all the predictions are just generic representations of common holiday icons, but it’s still cool, right? Sure it is! The calendar spits out a dilapidated animal figurine of some kind? She sees a reindeer later on. The calendar shows her a Christmas tree? She encounters a Christmas tree that very same day! Imagine that: a Christmas tree in December!
Now, I know I may sound a little bitter towards this movie, but that’s just because I am. More specifically, it’s because I find the entire Hallmark-style Christmas romcom genre profoundly hollow and disinteresting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of man who looks down upon romantic films on some fabricated grounds of masculinity. I am, however,  the sort of filmgoer who expects a certain level of thought and entertainment value from my movies, and ‘The Holiday Calendar’ and its ilk simply don’t cut it. The story lacks conflict, the characters lack development and, most importantly for a romantic comedy, the leading actors totally lack chemistry.
Then what exactly are we watching these movies for, you might ask? Why do Netflix and Hallmark keep making films like ‘A Christmas Prince’ and ‘Christmas Wedding Planner’ Well, to answer that question, I’ll step off my soap box for a second and admit that we all have different tastes. Movies like this may not be the most interesting or have the highest production quality, but they still make lots of people happy. My mom has long been a huge fan of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, and I know it’s because they provide simple, mindless entertainment in a time when mindlessness is not an option in most of our daily lives. They offer a reprieve from the stress and political division of modern life, so I say let the bad movies stay – we like them anyway.
All in all, ‘The Holiday Calendar’ – which is, by the way, an oddly nondenominational title for such an obviously Christian film – teaches us an important lesson about the magic of coincidence, suggestion, and simple entertainment. I, for one, will not soon forget it.