There are two types of people: those who love cheesy Christmas movies and those who must be related to Ebenezer Scrooge, so intent are they on avoiding anything remotely close to Christmas cheer. Alright, maybe there are three kinds of people – I used to be in the third category, the people who roll their eyes good-naturedly and humor the first type of people by allowing the corny Christmas stories to play during the holidays (and even beyond).
However, occasionally there’s a cheesy Christmas movie that manages to please more than one type of person, though I don’t know that the Grinches will ever be fully supportive of titles like “A Castle For Christmas”, though we can hope their little hearts grow three more sizes upon viewing this new Cary Elwes and Brooke Shields-led holiday romance.
Although my tolerance for cheese is higher than others, I was wary of “A Castle for Christmas” prior to watching. I’ve adored Cary Elwes since “The Princess Bride” and I don’t often watch romance movies (there are good ones, but it is, admittedly, my least favorite genre), but I decided to give this one a shot. I knew it would be beautiful, well-acted, and holiday-heavy.
I was right – it was beautifully shot (on location in Scotland!), Cary and Brooke were marvelous, the rest of the cast were absolutely delightful, and it was very Christmas forward. But I also found that there was more to like, and even love, about “A Castle for Christmas”, specifically that the romance happened between two older individuals, that the typical tropes were ignored in favor of fresh plot twists, and the happily ever after felt like it could actually happen. “A Castle for Christmas” is more realistic than a lot of other holiday fare I’ve partaken of – which heightened my enjoyment all the more.
One thing I appreciated was that each minor character had their own story arcs including the main character’s daughter, the village residents, and even the castle. There are so many little side stories intertwined with the main plot, but it’s done so simply and beautifully that you don’t notice the transitions. It flows so well, even without the lazy tropes that are so common with Christmas romance movies (yes, there are a few in this one as well but they’re paired with fresh twists and internal struggles which lends a more realistic feel to this tale).
When we see the impact of every decision regarding the castle affecting the townspeople, we care. When we see how losing the castle affects one of the main characters, we care. And when two people fall in love and struggle to figure out whether they can make things work, we root for them, caring more than perhaps we do about celebrity couples.
The personal struggles of each individual are developed slowly, unraveling one piece at a time so that each story carries weight. By the end, I felt as if I knew everyone in the village, that I would be welcomed at the Christmas ball, and that no matter what, someone would always be there to help with whatever problems I had.
I also appreciated that there was no “other guy” or “other girl” drama. The struggle between the two main characters had to do with their own personal issues, and they did work them out eventually, together, instead of allowing their issues to drive them apart and make them bitter. They weren’t perfect, and their relationship isn’t perfect, which is yet another thing that made “A Castle for Christmas” feel more grounded, even with the less than realistic title.
“A Castle for Christmas” is one of those films that I don’t mind watching again. I’ll add it to my Christmas movie list, and introduce people to it every year. I’ll enjoy seeing Elwes and Shields overcome their initial prejudices and move toward a romantic future together. It’s one of the few newer movies that I’ll be including on my Christmas movie list because it’s that rare combination of solid writing, superb acting, and beautiful scenery. I hope that you’re able to sit down on a cozy evening and enjoy this sweet, somewhat cheesy, but lovely holiday romance.
If you’d like to include “A Castle for Christmas” on your list, it is streaming now on Netflix.