Too Close for Christmas is a 2020 Christmas rom-com only recently released on Netflix Italia. It takes a lot of the most classic tropes of the genre and does… okay? Sometimes even the lowest of expectations can be disappointed.
Too Close for Christmas – Premise
Hayley’s holiday plans seem to take a turn for the worse when her stay at the extended family cabin is joined by the man who caused the ending of her last romantic relationship.
If this movie’s premise seems a little too simple, it’s because it is.
Aside from a slightly different premise than most usual holiday movies, Hayley (played by Jessica Lowndes) and Paul (played by Chad Michael Murray) don’t really enter a story that can be considered full of twists and unexpected moments.
Hayley is your average, Christmas rom-com, hardworking city woman. She never stops, she never rests, and she’s been expecting a big promotion at work that almost makes her miss the family holiday she was invited on by her sister Amy (played by Vanessa Sears) who promised that Paul – her husband’s brother for whom Hayley doesn’t have the warmest feelings – won’t be there.
Hayley and Paul, in fact, have history. Hayley used to be engaged to a British man she’s not with anymore, and the reason for that is a conversation they had that was jump-started by Paul regarding her ex-boyfriend’s return to his home country. She is convinced that if Paul hadn’t brought up the subject, she and her boyfriend wouldn’t have had the conversation and therefore, the boyfriend wouldn’t have left. She is, of course, wrong.
So that’s how she finds herself having to spend the days leading up to Christmas with a man she would very much like to strangle. Who doesn’t love a good Enemies to Lovers story?
A good Enemies to Lovers story?
It’s a shame, then, that this is not a good Enemies to Lovers story. Too Close for Christmas is the blandest, most boring, least believable or eventful Christmas rom-com I have ever seen. And, unfortunately, I have seen a lot.
The only reason I watched this movie was Chad Michael Murray. I have no shame in admitting this, and that isn’t because I’m a huge Chad Michael Murray stan or anything like that. I have known him since his One Tree Hill days, watched him grow on his brief Gilmore Girls stint and he has somewhat cemented himself in my brain as a kind of constant pretty boy presence in my childhood so I have a modicum of leftover childish affection for him (even though he wasn’t my favourite in either of those shows and I actually didn’t like One Tree Hill all that much – I was a Popular girl).
So, yeah, I gave this movie a try because of one actor. It’s certainly not the first time I watch a bad movie just because someone I like is in it and it definitely won’t be the last, but this one was especially bad.
What is this movie?!
Too Close for Christmas is infuriating. It is so boring, so extremely bland, so incredibly forgettable that it took me almost three weeks of back and forth with myself to finally write about it. It is one of the first movies of this Christmas season I watched and the first one I actively disliked. I can’t remember a single detail of it because almost nothing happens between the starting contention and the finishing getting-together.
The reason for Hayley and Paul’s contemptuous relationship is kept as this big unspeakable mystery for a good forty minutes of the movie, probably due to the fact that it is such a tiny and idiotic reason that the moment it is said out loud you immediately start thinking that this girl can’t possibly be for real. She blames a perfect stranger for simply daring to express an opinion on her relationship that turned out to be true and refuses to acknowledge that her relationship was doomed either way. Are we somehow expected to side with her at all? I’m asking because I have no idea if the movie really wants us to root for her or not.
The rest of the movie sees Hayley very quickly get over her dumb grudge so she can collaborate with Paul on the Christmas planning once his entire family – the house of whom they’re staying at – is hit by the flu, which gave me terrible pandemic PTSD by the way, and the two can finally get to know each other.
The chemistry, or lack thereof
So the audience is expected to follow these two as they start seeing beyond their reciprocal first impressions and supposedly fall in love. The problem with that is that not only is this process terribly tedious and completely uninteresting, the two characters – and possibly the two actors – do not have one single ounce of chemistry.
There is not one memorable moment between the two. The only thing that stuck with me was the protagonist’s constant fake eating. Hayley is portrayed as someone who snacks a lot – which is all fine and well, a lot of people do that and I don’t judge anybody for their eating habits – but the actress obviously can’t be constantly and actually eating when each scene might have to be filmed multiple times so the result is some truly annoying and show-stealing fake eating. It’s irritating and distracting because it’s obviously fake and easily takes the attention away from the already dull exchanges between the supposed love interests.
I’m not even sure I can comment on the acting either. I don’t know if the chemistry doesn’t work because the actors aren’t very good in this or if the reason for that is that the script is really bad and there is nothing even the most experienced of actors could have done with it.
The trite ending
The initial storyline that sees Hayley waiting on news about her promotion concludes fairly early in the movie when her company, for which she does event planning, decides to pass her over for someone else and she’s left in her thankless position that has taken away all her free time.
We go full circle when she’s called on to help for a charity event in the town the Christmas cabin is located and ends up – quite predictably – being amazing at it. It is at this very event that, through some accidental networking, she meets a big name of the event planning business who is absolutely astonished by how good a job she did for the charity and offers her a job.
Oh, how I wish getting jobs in real life was as easy as they make it out to be in Christmas rom-coms.
This is, to be fair, the least offending of the movie’s storylines. As unbelievable as it may be, it’s not all that different from any other romantic comedy following any variation of a businesswoman. You know it’s going to happen, you know it’s completely unrealistic, it’s fine ‘cause it’s a Christmas movie. Still, it doesn’t add absolutely anything to the movie.
Where we end up
What we have is a movie where our protagonist starts from being in a job that doesn’t appreciate her and at the end of a relationship in which she was left behind, and it ends with that same protagonist in a new, shiny, highly desirable job and in a new relationship with a man who values her above all else and just can’t stay away.
Do you think you heard this one before? That’s because you probably have! Listen, I know Christmas rom-coms aren’t the right place to look for originality but most of the time, if nothing else, at least the actors are adorable together or making the whole thing believable with their extraordinary on-screen chemistry, or even their individual acting skills. This movie has none of this.
If you’ve been reading my Christmas rom-com reviews, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been pretty hard on almost if not all the movies I’ve talked about, and that’s mostly because I’m not a rom-com fan at all so they really need to impress me for me to like them, but this time I think I’m actually right. Nothing in this movie wasn’t disappointing, and I believe that fans of the genre should be in the streets protesting for being taken for fools this badly.
Would I go back in time and tell myself not to watch this movie if I could? Yes. Actually, I’d do even better: I’d go back in time and actively prevent this movie from ever being made.
I hated it guys, I’m not gonna chop my words here, it was such a useless waste of my time. I would like to say it was so bad that it prevented me from watching any other Christmas rom-com for the season but I actually watched three more after this trying to cleanse my eyes (don’t worry, you’ll only be hearing about one of them).
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a movie you can put in the background as you take a nap so you won’t fall asleep when you watch a better movie later in the evening, this one’s for you!
Have you seen Too Close for Christmas? Did you like it? If so, how?!? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to follow Vampire’s Tears on all social media channels!
1993, bisexual. Split between drawing and writing. Too many ideas not to waste a few. Amateur translator.