Editor’s Note: “Tis the Season: The Holidays on Screen” celebrates the most beloved holiday films and television specials. The special airs Sunday, November 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.
Imagine, for a moment, a lush, snowy mountainscape.
As you gaze upon it, dreamy music plays (from who knows where – but it doesn’t matter) and you feel like you’re descending into a magical land, one where actress Lindsay Lohan is actively working again just as “The Parent Trap” gods intended, the troubled years seem like they never happened and the world is exactly as it should be.
This is not heaven, friends. It’s Netflix’s “Falling for Christmas.”
What we need to know about Sierra Belmont’s (Lohan) life is summed up perfectly in the opening scene of “Falling for Christmas,” when her “glam squad” arrives to her hotel room to do something not immediately obvious to her already perfect curls and watermelon-tinted lips.
It doesn’t matter that she #wokeuplikethis, Sierra’s life is about meaningless excess – more of the things you don’t need in life but none of the things you actually do, like interactions with people who wear things like flannel print.
Her father (Jack Wagner) is the owner of a fancy namesake hotel and he has brought Sierra to the property to integrate her into the family business as the vice president of atmosphere – a job title she acknowledges is about as real as the film’s snow.
Bacon-hating Sierra soon finds herself on a mountain top with her influencer boyfriend Tad (George Young), who proposes with a ring that’s quadruple the size of a normal person’s “I’m sorry” diamond. But before they can get back onto their snowmobile, the weather takes a quick turn for the stormy and Sierra and Tad are tossed down opposite sides of the snowy apex on which their dreams were about to come true.
Tad comes to and makes it his mission to get back to town, eventually finding a grizzled guide along the way.
Sierra awakes in a hospital, rescued by a struggling bed and breakfast owner, played by “Glee” alum Chord Overstreet, who in this role shows off that he’s now old enough to grow a single dad scruff beard.
The hospital – let’s say nothing of its subpar rural healthcare – releases Sierra, now a nameless amnesiac, to local hot dad Jake, who takes her in and teaches her the way of the lower middle class. It’s like “Overboard,” except with only one motherless kid and a Christmas-ier town.
You don’t need a crystal ball for the rest, nor should anyone have the delightful cheesiness and bacon redemption that takes place next ruined for them.
Suffice to say, the spirit of the holidays works on spoiled heiresses, grieving families and mountain townfolk alike, so much so that no one seems to recognize the face of one of the richest people in their region. But who cares?
“Falling for Christmas” is so much bigger than its crater-like plotholes. It’s a joyful reminder that you don’t need to lose your memory to remember how precious fresh starts are.
Lohan’s reemergence into the spotlight in support of the film’s release has been celebrated and rightfully so. She endured a lot of criticism in the years leading up to her retreat from celebrity life, and like so many women who have been unfairly treated in the media have been doing, she’s taking back the narrative, both in public and on screen.
Here, Lohan wears Sierra’s privilege with the same sass that she wore a mini skirt in “Mean Girls.” She smiles with the familiar mischief that made you want to be best friends with Annie and Hallie in “The Parent Trap.” And, dammit, if she can’t still cook up teary eyes with surprising effectiveness. It’s the formula that has worked for Lohan since her start and works for the Hallmark-type holiday movies so efficiently that it’s become a celebrated genre.
Some actors shoot for Oscars, and that’s great. Lohan’s magic power has always been bringing to life films that have the simple goal of being unchallenging delights. If for that and that alone, “Falling for Christmas” is a gift.