Latinos go all out for Christmas, so much so that the dearth of Christmas movies starring actors from our community has been, well weird. But when the Holiday movie industry is all copy and paste, secret angel, big city girl moving to small country town, or whatever the flavor is for a particular Hallmark year, it’s all you can expect. That said, Netflix has been taking the holiday movie game and diversifying it, not just with actors but with the types of stories that get told, particularly taking classing rom-com tropes and adding a little holiday cheer to it. Now with Christmas With You, we get a Christmas story that jumps right into the holidays with a Latino cast. The film is directed by Gabriela Tagliavini and features a story by German Michael Torres and stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Aimee Garcia, Grace Dumdaw, Gabriel Sloyer, Deja Monique Cruz, and Zenzi Williams.
Feeling career burnout, pop star Angelina tries to escape it all. The pressure from those around her because of her age, the fear of not being relevant, grief spurred by the holidays, and a more than annoying “boyfriend,” are all more than enough to make Angelina want to just get and stay away. When she watches a video of a young fan singing one of her older songs, she decides to meet her and make her wish come true. Leaving the bustling life of New York City, Angelina heads to small-town New York, where she not only finds the inspiration to revitalize her career but also a shot at true love with the teen’s music teacher father, Miguel (Freddie Prinze Jr.).
Both grabbing the Hallmark trend by the mistletoe and embracing the tropes that come with holiday movies, Christmas With You also manages to capture an endearing spark. This is due in part to the portrayal of a loving Latino family (though given the backgrounds of the actors and music played, I question if the team was going for pan-Latin over a specific culture) but more importantly because Angelina and Miguel are more mature than most rom-com couples. While ageism is a central conflict for Angelina, it never feels like we’re laughing at her. Instead, the situational comedy all works to pull Angelina in on the joke while also using the same tropes we’re used to in holiday rom-coms and honestly Latino families. the only large misses in the film when it comes to comedy are the use of the Black best friend trope and of course the unnecessary humor around eating and weight. The latter of these could have landed given how a lot of Latino families have many things to say about women’s weight, but it comes off as out of place instead of thought through.
There isn’t a lot to say about Christmas With You, because it is extremely straightforward and has everything you expect from the synopsis and the presentation of the film. If holiday rom-coms aren’t your jam, then this won’t be either. But if you have a soft spot for softness and cheer, and a surprise, if surface look, at grief as it ties to holidays then this is a movie well worth jumping into.
Christmas With You isn’t going to win an Academy Award but will win your heart. It’s the right kind of corny holiday cheer that hits the seasonal assignment. But more importantly, it’s refreshing to see a Christmas story baked in how some Latino families celebrate, and ultimately Prinze Jr.’s wholesome and kind nature is what we need more of. While the film centers a fast-paced romance, it never sacrifices Miguel’s responsibility of fatherhood or makes him change his endearing and soft nature. It’s worth a watch just to see Prinze Jr. being a dad on his own.
Christmas With You is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
Christmas With You
- Rating - 6.5/106.5/10
Christmas With You isn’t going to win an Academy Award but will win your heart. It’s the right kind of corny holiday cheer that hits the seasonal assignment. But more importantly, it’s refreshing to see a Christmas story baked in how some Latino families celebrate, and ultimately Prinze Jr.’s wholesome and kind nature is what we need more of.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.