With the Christmas season kicking in it's time for our favourite vomit-inducing Netflix Hallmark Christmas movies. After major successes (but why?) with movies like A Christmas Prince, The Holiday Calendar and The Princess Switch, they've now taken to ruining fantastic books for their lazy movie adaptations. All their cheesy Christmas movies have a sub-par cast in common with a story line that reekes of cliches so much you can still smell the lingering stench at Easter.
Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for Christmas movies and enjoy binge-watching them, but there are simply some that let you regret that Christmas is coming. If you're looking for a good selection (in my humble opinion), you can check out past blog posts about it here and here.
But now to this week's movie Let It Snow, directed by Luke Snellin and based (my ass) on the short story collection of acclaimed YA authors John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. Although the movie garnered predominantly positive reviews, it is only plausible that it did so because the reviewers were unfamiliar with the book - for it surely is one of the worst adaptations they could have made. Before I delve into the book and the movie adaptation, be warned that there will be MAJOR SPOILERS ahead, as I will give account on how different the stories are.
Let's start with the book. Let It Snow is the masterful lovechild of three authors who are experts on the YA field and have earned their respect as individuals in the book world. Together they forged a beautiful Christmas book with three distinct short stories that all weave together in some way and are all set in the little town of Gracetown where a heavy snow storm makes for three individual adventures that will change the protagonists' lives. Without steering away from a light tone, the stories encapsulate a warm Christmas feeling with complex characters you quickly start to care about and whose fates you are actually invested in.
Kick off is with Maureen Johnson's story The Jubilee Express which centres around a girl with the unusual name Jubilee. As her parents are spending Christmas in prison (after a Flobie village riot), she's put on a train to spend Christmas with her grandparents. However, after a blizzard hits the area, she's stuck in near-to-her-hometown Gracetown in a Waffle House. There she meets cute but sad-looking Stuart who takes her home to his mother Debbie. Spending time with Stuart and his family makes Jubilee slowly realise that her perfect-in-every-way boyfriend Noah isn't so perfect after all and that Stuart certainly is much cuter than first anticipated. Entry, a heart-tugging love story that keeps you in suspense until the happy end.
The second story was my favourite when I first read it. It is by John Green and titled A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle. The main protagonist is Tobin, a teenager who's snowed in at Christmas and his parents are unable to return from their conference in Boston. Not that Tobin is upset about this, he actually enjoys spending Christmas Eve alone with his two best friends, JP and The Duke (a girl whose actual name is Angie, but due to an anecdote that would take too long to explain now, she's called The Duke - but look it up in the book, if you're wondering, it's great). Their Holy Night is only disturbed when all-times-horny friend Keun calls from the Waffle House where he works, informing that a bunch of cheerleaders from the stuck train have just flurried in and that they must come to reap the Cheertastic Harvest with him. Informing them that the all-feared Reston Twins are also headed to the Waffle House, a race to the Waffle House commences on which Tobin slowly realises that no cheerleader could be as cool as his best friend Angie (The Duke) - and maybe she feels the same about him...
Finishing off the story comes The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle. We are confronted with a heart-broken teenage girl called Abbie who cheated on her boyfriend Jeb and now prays he'll take her back. Navigating through her sometimes selfish issues, she is still a likeable character you feel for. Even though she has to learn a thing or two about caring about others, she ends up doing just so and her boyfriend Jeb is certainly much more inclined to forgive her as well.
So much for the book. In summary, once more, a joyous holiday read with authentic characters that make you pine (and fear) for your teenage years again, perfect to snuggle up on a wintery night.
Let's now turn to the Netflix movie adaptation. What is most annoying when producers adapt a book is when it couldn't be further from the book away. If they'd changed the characters' names, you may have thought once or twice, "hey, that seems familiar", but apart from that the stories are so different from the original - good - book that it makes you wonder why they bothered to "base it on the book".
Now, if it had been at least a good new plot, this may have been forgivable, but the complex characters you loved in the book are exchanged for bland, stereotyped protagonists who partly cannot act, or were forced to say such bland lines that not even the best actor could save the scene. Still trying to keep up the three-story idea, instead of tying every story gently together, everything seems out of place and gets lost on the way in the attempt to turn this lovely Christmas book into another bland Netflix Christmas movie.
So what's happening in the Waffle House in the movie? Oh wait, did I say Waffle House? They didn't even manage to get that detail right, in the movie it's a Waffle Town and no longer in Gracetown, but Laurel, Illinois. See what I mean? If you even change the small details, why bother calling it an adaptation and ruining it for people who actually read the book? The first of the stories they butchered introduces Julie (yes, instead of flippant Jubilee we get a boring Julie) who's on the train that gets stuck.
Now, while Isabela Merced portraying Julie at least seems to be able to act, she's your usual stuck-up girl who's offended when super-major-uber-popstar Stuart (yes, he got an upgrade in the movie) assumes she wants to stalk him. Surely as famous as he is he immediately feels attracted to the one girl who's so different and not impressed by his stardom (read this line sarcastically, will you?).
Oh, and Debbie has been swapped to be Julie's mum now instead of Stuarts (because reasons) and they slapped an illness on her - for we all need a little sick lit into our lives (NOT!). Seriously, did Nicholas Sparks write the screenplay?
While they fall l in love inexplicably (their chemistry is just switched on mid-movie instead of slowly developing), Julie has to decide whether to stay with her sick mum or pursue her dream of going to Columbia University (I'm sure Nicholas Sparks DID write it!). Meanwhile Stuart is every bit of the brooding superstar who bemoans that fact that he's rich, popular and making money with what he enjoys. And this is the best-acted and most logical story line of the three, can you believe it?
Now, remember the lovely story of Tobin and The Duke where he slowly realises he's in love with her and they start acting all weird in a sweet way? Well now Tobin already knows it from the start and JP got upgraded from a nerd to a hot guy who tries to steal The Duke from Tobin. Instead of an adventurous snow scavenger hunt to the Waffle House through which the two protagonists slowly find together, we're tortured with awkward moments and lifeless acting that results in me not giving a damn whether they eventually find together or not. Oh, and by the way, the movie is as lazy as me explaining why she's called The Duke, she simply states she was always one of the boys and that was that - do better movie!
Finally to the worst story of the three. The Addie story in the book also features her two best friends Tegan and Dorrie, who are delightful and help Addie through her heartbreak. In the movie Addie is reduced to a resting-bitch-face bitch who obsesses about her boyfriend, who went from a devoted Jeb who braved snow and storm to return to Addie, to a dickhead who now cheats on Addie. Oh, and don't get me started on The Tinfoil Woman. In the book it was a weirdo man who simply ran around in tinfoil, nothing else. Now he got Joan-Cusacked and she acts as a weird "angel figure" who aids Addie in realising that phones are awful, or some shit like that. Seriously, don't cut out all the good plot points but leave this unnecessary one in to fit your shitty screenplay.
And, as if butchering up the story wasn't enough, the movie thought it was absolutely necessary to insert a gay subplot where there was none before. I get it's 2019 (and yes, haters, please come at me for what I am about to write), but does everything now have to have a gay subplot somewhere? It seems very forced, especially because it is not even a good subplot. We meet Dorrie who works at the Waffle Town and spots a girl, Kerry, she once had a thing with among the cheerleaders who come into the Waffle Town. Now, said cheerleader treats her like air, clearly not having come out yet. They make out in the bathroom then but Kerry is not ready to come out yet - only to be totally ready a few hours later at the party and getting her happily ever after with Dorrie.
In short, watching the movie was a sore disappointment if you're familiar with the sweet and genuine stories provided by the book. The bland story lines lose themselves throughout the movie and by squeezing in so many subplots, the characters are not given time to develop, or the viewer to actually get to care about them.
In summary, forget about it and read the book instead. Oh, and download the soundtrack, for it really was the only enjoyable thing about this movie.
Here you find book reviews, and sometimes also things about films. Enjoy reading.