Watching brilliantly awful Netflix films is a treasured hobby of mine. 2017’s A Christmas Prince was a solid addition to the terrible Christmas film canon, containing all of the classic elements: at least one, if not more, dead parents, as this is apparently the only way to add emotional depth to a character, a non-white best friend who receives almost no screen time or lines and writing that makes you want to start lauding 50 Shades of Grey as a modern classic.
In the first film, typical American girl Amber Moore goes undercover in fictional European country Aldovia to expose the true story of the elusive prince. Predictably, they end up falling in love, while simultaneously managing to stop slimy Count Simon from usurping the throne. Both Amber and the Prince are so boring. It is glorious.
However, A Christmas Prince 2: the Royal Wedding is not quite like its predecessor. It is not enjoyably bad. It is harrowingly bad. As the credits rolled, we sat in silence, feeling physically stressed after such a phenomenally awful two hours of cinema. In one scene, showing a protest of Aldovia’s citizens after mass unemployment hits the country, there is a perfect sign among the rest. It merely reads: WHY?!
WHY?! Indeed, A Christmas Prince 2.
WHY does the King dress like a trainee solicitor?
WHY does Amber only realise becoming a literal queen will change her life four days before her wedding?
WHY does the primary sub-plot revolve around government finance?
The film opens a year after the first installment finishes, showing that Amber and King Richard – whose middle name is Bevan. WHY?! – have spent the last year flying between Aldovia and New York, planning their wedding and definitely not having sex, based on their total lack of chemistry and separate bedrooms in the Aldovian Castle.
The opening minutes show both Amber and Richard appearing on numerous magazine covers (including one magazine actually named Cover, showing again that a fucking hamster could have written this movie) and appearing on chat shows, making it all the more surprising that the film’s central plotline is about how Amber struggles to cope with the loss of her independence and the repeated requests for her to toe the line regarding royal customs. It is only after a year of media appearances, magazine shoots and a high-profile intercontinental romance that it occurs to Amber that being in the public eye might impact her day-to-day life.
This is made more plausible when you consider that King Richard is the human equivalent of a wet wipe. I wish Amber would just admit she wants the oversized crown and access to the royal bank account, because there is no other possible reason she would want to marry a man who never defends her or her career, makes it clear that her queenly duties will involve picking out Christmas trees and planning parties rather than the high-level government policymaking she envisions and whose whole wardrobe consists of his primary school uniform jumpers in various block colours.
The whole situation comes to a head when the housekeeper turned Communications Director – because that’s a totally realistic career progression – censors Amber’s blog, removing photos of Princess Emily with a dot of icing on her nose as it’s not in keeping with the royal image. Here I thought the real PR nightmare was that, as the country’s people protest and riot over mass unemployment, the future queen gleefully showcasing the royal family having a literal food fight and wasting mountains of food might be seen as a little vulgar. But I certainly don’t have the housekeeping experience required to equip me for a communications role so what do I know?
As Mrs Averill – housekeeper turned PR expert – shouts ‘protocol!’ at Amber for the billionth time, King Richard just sits there, mute. This is not surprising as wet wipes can’t speak. Then you remember he is a human man, a king, no less, and that he is the worst.
Running alongside this plot, and acting as the other main storyline, is Aldovia’s impending financial ruin. Despite the fact that everything was fine up until approximately yesterday, it now appears that money is bleeding from the Aldovian economy and no one knows where it’s going! Everyone is unemployed and starving within 24 hours. The King attempts to solve this problem by moodily stomping around the castle and meeting with any number of ministers, none of whom can solve this totally plausible and not at all poorly conceived issue.
You know who can figure it out?
That’s right. With incisive interviewing skills that see her making the notes “Meadowlark. Fishy.” Amber manages to figure out that the three new companies that have popped up seemingly overnight are all related to parent company “Glockenspiel Industries” (do they know glockenspiel is a real word?), which is registered in the name of Leopold Plumtree, who – GASP – has recently been hired to help the King out of this mess. THE DRAMA.
It takes a nine-year-old hacker approximately two hours to find a neat certificate showing the Lord Leopold has diverted 2.6 billion Euros out of Aldovia. No one in the King’s dedicated team of ministers made even a smidge of progress in figuring this out, but Amber, with her trusty sunglasses and flip notebook, manages it in about 24 hours. Sack the lot of them.
In a truly bizarre turn of events, after Lord Leopold has been exposed, Amber pulls a bow and arrow on him – because murdering a respected dignitary without a trial on the eve of your wedding is definitely a good idea.
We also spend an absurdly large portion of the film focusing on Princess Emily’s god-awful Christmas play. Of course, when your people are starving and the country is falling apart, totally unnecessary children’s theatre should take priority. We do, however, get to see Amber’s ‘journalistic instinct’ in action when the power cuts out at the theatre and, after a beat, she muses, “this can’t be right.” Genius.
I would suggest a drinking game to go along with watching this film – take a drink every time someone says ‘protocol’ – but I worry you would die. Yes, it is a sign of how boring this film is that protocol is one of the most frequently used words.
Other words I did not expect to hear in A Christmas Prince 2: Cryptocurrency. Infrastructure. Tetrahedron. If you are confused, you should be. A Christmas Prince 2 is something to be witnessed, but not understood.
The film ends at the titular Royal Wedding, where Amber arrives in her preferred dress, which resembles a designer satin dressing gown, and unbearably predictable sparkly Converse. The two most boring people in the world get married. I worry for Amber, who has married a man who has no interest in allowing her any role in the decision-making of the country she presides over. He makes clear over and over that he feels she is best placed in tree-choosing and sitting quietly. But, he does offer a single lame apology, so yes, commit your life to this very average man.
There’s so much I haven’t even touched on, like the borderline racist/homophobic characterisation of Sahil, the gay Indian wedding planner, or the number of minutes wasted implying sexual tension between, oh, the queen and her head of security, Amber’s dad and the beautiful royal chef, Sahil and Amber’s NY friend, Simon and Amber’s other NY friend and Princess Emily and local boy Tom. Because what else do you do with characters if not match them up in wildly inappropriate relationships that go nowhere because sex is forbidden in Aldovia?
A Christmas Prince 2 is bad. Not even ironically bad. No one who made this film gave a shit, and that’s what gives it its charm. Grab a drink or six and your most savage friend and enjoy. Or don’t because I literally don’t care and if you decide life is too short, I salute you.
Merry Christmas, everyone! May your films be terrible and your glasses be full.