The Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby - 2019
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Maybe beginning with the third in a series of Netflix Christmas movies was a bad idea. Maybe I had more questions at the end than I did at the start. Maybe A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby was a hot mess and I already knew that going in. Maybe, inexplicably, the whole film is about a theoretical curse.
Now to be fair, I watched the first movie shortly after watching this one, and then sat on this review for three or more weeks trying to process the two of them and contemplate whether I should see the second for more context (I denied myself the pleasure). I genuinely didn’t know how they would make a story about a royal baby interesting, and spoiler alert, they didn’t, but boy did they try to, in just the weirdest ways.
I’m starting with theme because I don’t know how to start the review, so why not start with the thing I know the least about how to start with. I’m getting confused just writing this intro.
What is this movie about?
Well, if you thought the word “Christmas” in the title of any of these A Christmas Prince movies was an indicator that I would start this section with the, “This is a Christmas movie” bit, you would be wrong, because this is not really a Christmas movie. The fact that anything interesting happening in this couple's life, just so happens to coincide with Christmas is a coincidence in itself. There’s no point for it. Christmasness barely comes up. I will still argue that Lethal Weapon is one of the quintessential Christmas movies because of the themes that the film explores and how Christmas ties into them. However, A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby just has fairy lights and characters singing really specific Christmas carols.
There is one scene that I have been trying to unpack. In it, a foreign king, from the neighbouring kingdom Penglia, gives them a baby shower present (because there’s a royal baby, remember?) with the gift of music, and he inexplicably sings Hark the Herald Angels Sing. This is weird, because the second line is specifically, “Glory to the newborn King”…is he talking about Jesus? About Christmas? Or is he talking about the baby? The royal baby? Who will be the newborn king? And he only sings those two lines and then it cuts away, so I still have no idea what was happening.
As I mentioned at the start, the main threat in this movie may or may not be a 600-hundred-year-old curse. Judging by the first movie, there was no magic in this universe before this film, and technically, there’s no confirmed magic in this film either, but a 15-year-old girl read that there is a curse, so all the lead characters take it VERY seriously.
The whole reason there is a curse in the first place is because a ritualistic truce with Penglia must be signed before Christmas, and if the truce is not signed, technically both Kingdoms will be at war. But war isn’t high stakes enough (neither countries have an army), so they had to add this potential curse! It’s an odd choice, but the driving force of this movie.
Also, haven’t mentioned it yet, but the film is a surprise whodunnit! That’s right, fifteen minutes in, the truce has disappeared and apparently there’s a blizzard so no one can leave! That must mean that the thief is still among us! Except now the film decides to be a bad remake of Father of the Bride 2, and baby showers and other random crap happen, until the last five minutes. Literally as not-Charlize Theron goes into labour, she reveals that she has discovered the thief (mere minutes before the curse will be enacted and she will give birth)! I mean, great work to her. Stops a war, cures a curse, solves a crime and gives birth in the span of ten minutes. I couldn’t do that.
Maybe if they spent more than three minutes on the mystery, I could’ve been more engaged, but I could just be asking too much of a movie that decides to tell you that the King’s mother is a master lock-pick?
At least it seems like they shot in a real castle? With the exception of the dungeon scene (yes, I know people care about the continuity of the A Christmas Prince movies, so maybe they explained this in the second one, but despite numerous jokes in the first movie about there being no dungeon, half of the climax is set in the dungeons...that may or may not be haunted).
The casting is probably the most impressive thing, with each actor looking like the Aldi brand version of a real actor, so props to Carolyn Mcleod for travelling the multiverse to find these not-quite stars. Unfortunately, she failed at finding a convincing Martin Short (hopefully that’s the second film's fault, as I can tell the A Christmas Prince character played Short's Franck character, but I can’t be bothered checking if Carolyn also cast the wedding film).
There is only so much that fairy lights can do, as far as cinematography goes. I do like that they have a tendency to use wide angle lenses when shooting wide shots indoors. It’s a classic real estate trick to make the rooms look bigger, but I like the look of it, so that’s nice. Maybe I just like real estate.
This is a hard one, because they are trying and the film has a sense of earnestness about it, but also a sense of entitlement. I want to like it for being bad, but at the same time, it had moments, that set up hysterical moments, that fell very flat.
If you have a friend or partner who is willing to laugh it up with you, I think you can have a good time, but I had to watch it alone and became lost in my own thoughts; I just couldn’t have fun with it. Talking to people about it afterwards, sure, that was fun, but in the moment, I just couldn’t do it.