Predictability in rom-coms is fine, but only when it hits the sweet spot of cheesy but heartwarming, cliche yet entertaining. Netflix’s Let It Snow, based on the novel by best-selling authors John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, fails to hit that mark. It follows the story of four couples one Christmas Eve when a snowstorm leaves the town of Laurel, Illinois totally helpless.
Kiernan Shipka leads the cast as The Duke, giving one of the best performances. Other standout performances include Mitchell Hope as goofy, lovesick Tobin and Shameik Moore as a young pop star. Joan Cusak, who both acted in and narrated the film, undoubtedly steals the show.
The movie follows various groups of teenagers on Christmas Eve in a snow-blanketed town. The only details you really need to get the gist of the plot are the classic, stock characters –– the lonely popstar, the friend-zoned boy –– and a Hollywood attempt at what a high school party would look like at the local Waffle Town. The image those three details create pretty perfectly capture the plot and message of the film.
If there hadn’t been as many moments where I physically squirmed in my seat, I would have written a very different –– and probably more complementary –– review. I would’ve had a high-rated review to write. But in truth, the film was a messy mix of awkward dialogue and cliches. It reminded me of just how little Netflix and other movie producers must know about what life is actually like as a teenager in the real world. In the end, I’ll admit, I was rooting for every couple to have their happy ending, but it’s hard to tell if the end makes up for the rough beginning and middle.
In true cringey rom-com fashion, there was even a highly awkward, completely unnecessary scene involving a church, an organ and a duet of what appeared to be an original song by two of the characters. I’m still not sure who decided singing should ever be included in rom-coms, but I definitely wasn’t on board with this one.
Another scene centered around a strange older tow truck driver (Joan Cusack) lecturing Addie (Odeya Rush) about how she only sees the world through her phone. In fairness, Addie was easily the least likeable character. But the reason for that was that the only time we really saw her, she was on her phone, stalking her boyfriend, or complaining about her boyfriend. I felt disappointed that they threw in a stereotypical character like that –– the boy-obsessed girl, desperate for attention. It didn’t raise my overall rating at all, that’s for sure.
In short, I expected more. When I hear the name John Green attached to anything, I expect little less than perfection. Let It Snow was not quite that.
Attending a screening of the film also made me realize why Netflix movies are made for streaming. When you’re watching it at home in your bed, you can have a more vocal reaction to the squirm-worthy scenes I’ve mentioned. In a cinema, you don’t have that luxury. However, watching it with an audience did contribute to the viewing experience in some ways. We laughed together, cringed together and, by the end, everyone in the cinema clapped together.
So if you’re looking for a light and fluffy holiday movie, it’s worth a watch. By the final scene, I’d mostly forgotten about the awkwardness and was rooting for each couple to close the film out, perfectly content and kissing in the falling snow. Just don’t go into it expecting a movie at Steven Spielberg’s level. Think more After, but make it festive, and you’re on the right track.
Thumbnail by Petritap - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4595667