I Couldn’t Create a Listicle for A Castle for Christmas… But That’s Okay

Dept. of Christmas Crackers


We are well into “Netflix Christmas Movie” season and, to be honest, some of the movies are utter dross. “Netflix Christmas movie” has rapidly replaced “Hallmark movie“ as a shorthand for dismissal and mockery. Does A Castle for Christmas fit in with its slightly shoddy stable mates or is it a true Christmas miracle?

On paper A Castle for Christmas has all the hallmarks (LOL!) of a stereotypical seasonal affair. A fish out of water protagonist (Brooke Shields’ Sophie Brown) flees from a personal crisis (fans of her romance novels turn on her after the events of her most recent book) to an unusual locale (Scotland). Once there, she befriends some colorful locals (the local knitting circle) and meets a grumpy yet attractive man who is not who he first appears to be (Cary Elwes’ Duke Myles). Events conspire to force the pair to spend time together and hijinks, and eventual romance, ensue. It’s Monach of the Glen meets The War of the Roses!

Cut, print, see you this time next year gang!  

Normally, I endure these movies by taking note of problems or questions that I can turn into an article, but for A Castle for Christmas I just couldn’t do it.

It’s not that it isn’t corny, predictable nonsense, but there is an earnestness to it.

As You Wish

The main source of drama here is that Sophie decides to buy Dun Dunbar Castle from the crotchety Duke Myles and Myles, having spotted an opportunity to alleviate some of his fanatical woes maintaining the castle, makes her sign an egregious escrow policy (deposit non-refundable!). She has to stay in the castle, with him, for three months before the sale can go though. More than enough time for him to confirm she’s a worthy caretaker and to drive her out, keeping that hefty deposit!

Normally, this is where the Duke should put Sophie through hell to drive her away, but after putting her in one of the coldest, more dilapidated rooms in the castle, he kind of just gives up. You might expect some “city folk” versus “country folk” shenanigans as the Duke resorts to dirty tricks to get Sophie to leave.(all of which we are supposed to forgive him for later), but it never happens. Instead, they go for a nice drive.

Sure, there is some conflict, but it’s a lot more sedate, even charming.   

The Christmas (Charm) Offensive

A lot of this charm has to do with the leads. A friend of mine has a penchant for rom-coms featuring older couples, like It’s Complicated, As Good as It Gets, and Battlestar Galactica, and A Castle for Christmas demonstrates the appeal. There’s something attractive about romance that isn’t based upon love at first sight or fueled by the flush of youth. Despite both leads retaining their looks, they are well into their 50s.

While there’s no scenes of Sophie falling in cowpats or Myles learning how the internet works, unfortunately there aren’t any real stand out laughs or scenes either. It’s mostly just the same old story…

Girl meets boy. Girl and boy find each other interesting before boy makes boorish mistake. Boy pushes girl away. Boy and girl end up living together for three months. Affection develops between boy and girl before boy makes a dumb mistake and pushes girl away again. Boy wins back girl with a relatively big gesture (but nothing too over the top please, we’re Scottish) and they all live happily ever after.

It’s a cliché, but the leads carry it.

Shields and Elwes definitely have chemistry, even if he might not have the accent, but unlike most Netflix Christmas movies, it’s actually set in a real country, Scotland! And it’s filmed there too!

It all adds up to enough charm to carry you though.

Who Were That Couple Who Check Into the Hotel?

I’ve seen a number of people puzzling over couple that check in to the village inn near the end of the movie before completely disappearing. If you’ve not been wallowing in the Netflix cheer, you won’t know that they are Frank (Mark Fleischmann) and Mrs. Donatelli (Suanne Braun) from The Princess Switch 1, 2, and 3. They have zero impact on the plot, but at least it seems like they finally got the opportunity to work through the romantic tension between them. An opportunity repeatedly denied to them in those Princes Switch movies

Along with Sophie’s obnoxious, possibly incompetent, literary agent, and some unfunny segments featuring Drew Barrymore, it’s the only real elements linking A Castle for Christmas to the rest of Netflix’s Christmas stocking fillers. Thankfully.

In the end A Castle for Christmas is a little like a nice glass of scotch. It’s comforting, but you wouldn’t want to indulge too much, and you’ll probably forget it in the morning.

A Castle for Christmas is currently streaming on Netflix.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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