1) There are no wolves. You will recall that in the first movie, our heroine Amber is menaced by wolves during a vaguely Beauty and the Beast-inspired sequence, which leads to a crucial bonding moment between Amber and the titular Christmas Prince.
The whole thing was so bizarre that it immediately imprinted itself into my heart. So naturally, I expected the wolves to make their much-anticipated return in the sequel. And yet! There are no wolves!
The Christmas Prince even says, “No wolves, I promise,” right before a festive horseback ride through Aldovia’s supposedly wolf-infested mountains, and there is not so much as a howl in the distance. The absence of wolves, obviously, is unmitigated bullshit.
2) The wedding dress, which comes at the end in a big reveal, is less a ballgown and more a kind of business-casual-looking white satin shirt dress, with a train. It, too, is bullshit.
But if A Christmas Prince 2: Where Are the Fucking Wolves? were to do anything as interesting and potentially costly as bring back the wolves or showcase fabulous dresses, it would not be in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas Prince franchise, which is to revel in sparkly mediocrity.
The people who made this sequel cared so little about it that the movie contains a scene in which one character’s entire outfit changes between cuts — like, drastically changes, from blue and pink to brown and mustard — and no one ever bothers to offer an excuse. That’s the spirit with which we are entering into this movie, and you have to accept that up front.
The ideal Hallmark Christmas movie — which is absolutely what Netflix’s Christmas Prince franchise is emulating — is so dumb that it makes you feel smart because you can mock it while you’re half-paying attention and also a little bit drunk.
However, it is also frothy and warm enough that watching it makes you feel that you have been swaddled in a cozy blanket of family values and consumerism. Getting in on the joke in the manner of, say, a Riverdale would mean embracing the inherent camp of the genre — and that would ruin the straight-faced coziness of the whole thing.
And so A Christmas Prince turns its face away from the wolves and plays the whole thing relentlessly, and in all senses of the word, straight.
No, I will not call the Christmas Prince by his real name, next question
Before we dive into the movie proper, a note on terminology. I am aware that the Christmas Prince (Ben Lamb) is now technically a Christmas King, having been crowned at the end of the first movie. I am further aware that he has a name (“Richard”). All of this is meaningless to me. The Christmas Prince he was dubbed in the first movie, and the Christmas Prince he shall be called. I will take no questions on this matter.
Royal Wedding finds the Christmas Prince struggling with his plans to modernize Aldovia by investing in its infrastructure and wow, yes, I too am bored already. Here’s the thing: This sequel is clearly caught by the trap that traditionally grabs a nighttime soap in its second season. After spending the first season reveling in the lavish wealth of its protagonists, the second season inevitably makes the mistake of looking into where the money comes from (see for instance: Gossip Girl, the Bass Industries plot; Revenge, the Initiative plot), and nothing interesting ever comes of it.
In this case, Royal Wedding is trying to justify its charmingly low-production-value version of fabulous wealth by looking at what the royal family is doing for the country they ostensibly serve, and the best thing I can say about that plot line is that it doesn’t take up that much screentime.
Nothing in this movie is surprising, but then that’s what makes it soothing
Instead, we spend most of the movie with Amber (Rose McIver) as she struggles to find a way to take on her new duties as a queen-in-waiting while maintaining her independent nature, and also her blog. (Blogs are still a thing in this universe.)
Just as in the first movie, stern Mrs. Averill (Sarah Douglas) keeps trying to force Amber to follow “protocol,” because when you marry into a family that is paid obscene amounts of money in exchange for some largely ceremonial work, apparently you have to make some sacrifices for “diplomatic” and “political” reasons, whatever.
And just as in the first movie, the Christmas Prince’s plucky little sister Emily (Honor Kneafsey) becomes Amber’s partner in crime as she struggles to maintain her own identity. Amber is also accompanied by her father (John Guerrasio, taking over from Daniel Fathers), who never quite says, “Bada bing, bada boom,” but who definitely wants to the whole movie.
Will Amber find a way to maintain her identity and keep her true love and acquire a castle full of stuff? Yes! Will the Christmas Prince find a way to modernize his country’s infrastructure and pay attention to his fiancée, all while maintaining the aura of a slightly constipated Ken doll? Yes! Will there be wolves? No. Will Amber and the Christmas Prince ever indicate that they have had or plan to have sex? Extremely no.
In the meantime, there is a castle. There are fairy lights. There is jellied meat. There is a borderline racist/homophobic caricature of a gay Indian wedding planner. There are cute kids. There is snow, and snow angels, and tobogganing.
Light bigotry aside, everything here is blandly, smoothly cozy. And if you are sad and tired from the holidays since apparently they now start at Halloween, and you need to turn off your brain and watch some straight garbage every day for 18 days, then A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is here for you.
The wolves, however, are not. Such bullshit.