I've so been looking forward to reviewing this! For... what seems like months. :)
(And warning, this may be a little more rambly of a review than ordinary. Also shorter. Part of which is owing to the fact that it's a pretty straightforward story and the spoilers are all pretty good ones, which I'm determined not to spill, so... you'll just have to take my word for certain things. The sweetness factor, for instance. ;))
First, since it's quite new and still rather unknown, I decided to opt for the risky route of sharing the official summary (since you could all look it up anyway) and this way I can give some provisos.
"The holidays get a royal sparkle in this charming romance starring Lacey Chabert and Stephen Hagan. Emily (Chabert) is a young seamstress in Philadelphia who is thrilled to be spending the holidays with her new business-school boyfriend, Leo (Hagan). But when Leo proposes and reveals he's actually a prince of Cordinia, Emily is suddenly whisked into a dreamlike world of pomp and ritual where she feels painfully "common." When Leo's regal mother, Isadora, invites one of Leo's former girlfriends to the palace's Christmas Eve Ball, Emily must summon all her courage to prove that she's the one who really belongs with Leo in this heartwarming story crowned with happiness and laughter."
I really consider that summary to be more than a little... well, yes. So. The provisos are that: #1, they had actually been dating for about a year (which, to me, isn't that 'new'), #2 he wasn't exactly proposing, and #3, she doesn't ever try to 'prove' herself in the sense of lowering herself to fight over him. She does prove herself most worthy, but not exactly in the way that's implied.
Throughout, the directors make some rather neatly obvious bows to Certain Royalty, but honestly, I don't find it cliché. Or if it is, it's just altogether fun and I don't mind in the least.
At the center of the story, of course, is Emily and Leo's friendship/romance. One of the reasons their romance story is such a favorite of mine is the serious, everyday fun they have together -- the enjoyment in each other's company. There're all the little jokes and catchphrases; the little teasing moments where the other person actually gets it. I absolutely love that through and through.
And there are so many charming little moments in the film as whole...
Watching Emily gamely sampling the delicacy of jellied eels, for instance.
(Incidentally, Jane Seymour does quite the job with the imperious and overbearing "stepmother" role.)
Then after the ball, we get to the heartbreak and heart-achingness of the story.
This scene's amazing.
I get teared up each and every time.
It has all the elements of the classic Cinderella story: an 'ordinary' girl meeting her prince, the social divide and tension, a quite disagreeable rival figure + several nice 'sister' figures, servants fulfilling the role of a fairy godmother, and then Cinderella renouncing her prince and her prince coming in pursuit.
(As a note, Emily's best friend, Toni, is marvelous. And her father's hilarious.)
Now we're reaching the ending... And here I'm purposely going to become extremely vague and deliberately leave out sundry details and also numerous, delightfully splendid screencaps as I really, truly do have your best interests at heart and intend to do my level best to guard you against spoilers. ;)
But I will say this. It's adorably sweet. I mean, look... He's kneeling down in the middle of the snow covered street.
(And the poor young man. He has to propose not once... not twice... but thrice! :))
But he perseveres. And he does. And it's all most wonderfully happy and satisfying.
|(And we get this beautiful, fairy tale-ish, wintery wedding... :))|
Altogether -- from beginning to end -- this film is entirely sweet, charming, family friendly, and romantic. I love it!!!