There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, which is why it’s important to make the right choice this holiday season. After all, no one has the time to waste over two+ hours on a bad movie.
At the top of your list should be Hotel for the Holidays, a rom-com that offers a refreshing take on a festive genre that oftentimes lacks creativity simply because the forces behind the scenes know it will make money regardless as everyone longs for a slice of familiarity and comfort around the holidays.
There’s plenty of Christmas magic (it must’ve slipped through the cracks) in Hotel for the Holidays, and it sneaks up on you—and Madelaine Petsch’s character, Georgia—in the best possible way. It’s Amazon Freevee’s first original holiday flick, and hopefully, not the last.
The plot is rather simple on the surface, but it isn’t predictable as with other holiday rom-coms.
Here’s the gist: Georgia is a young and ambitious hotel manager at the historic Hotel Fontaine (it gives The Plaza Hotel vibes from Home Alone 2), which attracts an eclectic bunch of guests, including some heartbroken singles, an infamous popstar, a European ex-prince looking for a taste of the real world, and more. They all arrive in New York City for the holidays looking for an escape from the norm, and Georgia is determined to give it to them. However, she also has her own plans and goals that get her into a bit of a love triangle with the hotel’s chef, Luke (Mesa Massoud from the live-action Aladdin), and the ex-prince, Raymond (Max Lloyd Jones from Book of Boba Fett). It also stars Kayleigh Shikanai (American Gods) as Pandora, Jami Belushi (According to Jim) as Kiki, Neil Crone (It) as Milton, and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Florence.
Pretty early into the film, it’s obvious how Georgia’s romantic life will resolve itself, which allows the film to dig into other captivating subplots that are positively unexpected. Unlike other holiday films, Georgia values herself beyond a romantic partner, which, right off the bat, is a breath of fresh air.
The supporting cast plays an integral part in the film, right down to the chef’s best friend/fellow chef and the janitorial staff. They may not be the sole focus of the series, but the team behind the rom-com found a way to involve them in a way that’s natural and easy to keep up with. Pretty soon, you find yourself rooting for the happiness of everyone at Hotel Fontaine—the staff and the guests.
The acting is also great. It’s just the right amount of feel-good so it never feels forced, nor do the character’s choices seem questionable. It’s all believable within the world they’ve created, aside from the scene where they are dining on a rooftop in the dead of a New York City winter without jackets or even sweaters. How are they not cold? As for the few over-the-top performances and characters, well, they also work—the prince’s bodyguard (AJ Zoldy) is a delight.
If I’m being perfectly honest, the magical thing about the film is that it’s a love letter to the community of people you surround yourself with: your found family.
The film doesn’t just settle for telling a story about two people who finally admit that they love each other because that’s tired and expected. Instead, it recognizes that romance comes in all shapes and sizes—in romantic partners, in co-workers, in friends, and even in new acquaintances that pass through your life for a brief moment (or stay awhile).
The storylines come together seamlessly, and the themes of belonging and acceptance—in addition to staying true to yourself, finding the inspiration to pursue your goals and ambitions, and acknowledging that it’s ok to move and find happiness on your own terms, even if it doesn’t always please everyone—help the film stand out among the other cliche seasonal offerings.
Most importantly, Petsch shines… and it’s so deserved. The film allows her to show off her range of acting chops that, sadly, get stifled on Riverdale. The CW series may have been her mainstream big break, but it stopped working in her favor a long time ago, so it’s exciting to see her take on new projects and characters.
Of all the Christmas films that I’ve seen in 2022 thus far, Hotel for the Holidays is one of the best.
Check it out for yourself when it premieres on Dec. 2 on Amazon’s Freevee.
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‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Review – A Murder Mystery Within a Murder Mystery
If you’re a murder mystery fanatic who enjoyed the original Knives Out, you’re likely looking forward to what Rian Johnson has in store for you this time around.
And you’re probably wondering—can the second installment capture, bottle up, and sell the essence of the first film once again? Unfortunately, it cannot.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery takes a stab at it—yet misses the mark, though not entirely. If you ordered a margarita, this would be a watered-down margarita–slightly less potent but still enjoyable enough.
The first film was a smashing success mainly because it delivered the eerie vibe of an old-school whodunit. However, the classic elements that made the first one so great are no longer present in the sequel. It’s glitz, glamor, and gadgets, first and foremost. With a heavy tech focus and set amid a backdrop of a luxury private island, it doesn’t necessarily align with what fans may be expecting, nor does it benefit from falling under the Knives Out umbrella. In fact, I think labeling it as a Knives Out mystery may have led to the confusion since tonally, it feels more adjacent to Death on the Nile.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Death on the Nile, so once I came in with an open mind, Glass Onion turned out to be a thrilling journey from beginning to end. The pristine locations, top-notch action, and eccentric characters all lent themselves to the wonder.
We’re not playing your mom’s version of Clue as the film bypasses the typical murder mystery aesthetic, which becomes evident almost immediately, however, it’s crafted with just as much, if not more, love from Johnson, who knows he has to live up to some pretty high expectations.
The second film is ambitious, serving up multiple murder mysteries in one. The murder mystery within a murder mystery makes it difficult to have any plausible theories until about halfway through when the film starts walking the storyline back and peeling the layers of the very complex onion.
And while I personally thought the murderer’s identity was far too obvious—isn’t that always the case? Isn’t the killer always starting your right in the face?—it was still a satisfying resolution. The clues are all there from the beginning if you dare pay close attention…and it’s that attention to detail and intricacies that make the Knives Out franchise such a hit.
The writers managed to trip audiences up with an added plot twist so well crafted, it could shock even the sleuthiest of sleuths, including Benoit Blanc.
Daniel Craig’s gentleman detective is the only familiar thread between the two films, and it’s comforting to hear his Southern drawl once again, because this time, you know exactly what to expect from him. You’ve seen him in action and you know how his mind works, so even if it doesn’t seem like he has a handle on the situation, he knows more than he’s letting on.
He has a pulse on the new mystery, coming in knowing more than anyone on the island—or the audience—knows, but at times, it sure does seem like he’s lost his edge. And that’s the point… the minute you let your guard down, and when you think the game has gotten away from him, he cracks the case most brilliantly.
I didn’t think we’d see Craig headline another franchise after Bond, but here we are, and having a damn good time at that, especially as the film takes on a more comedic tone. The laid-back nature of the film allows Benoit to have some fun and not take himself so seriously– he doesn’t need to prove himself this time around—and fans can let loose and get lost in the plot without feeling too bogged down by the murderous twists, of which there are plenty.
The new group of suspects—because let’s be honest, that’s what they are—is a group of old friends who refer to themselves as the “disruptors.” However, the only thing being truly disrupted is their fun murder mystery party on the island when a real-life murder occurs and sends their little getaway into disarray. Through this real-life murder, we begin to unearth a little more about each character, learning their motivation and relationship with the victim(s) play a crucial role in solving this mystery. And though I found it slightly difficult to connect with any specific character on a deeper level, or even feel any empathy for them, the variety of personalities, backgrounds, and social statuses, makes them all worthy suspects.
Knives Out capitalized on a star-studded cast the first time around, and Johnson somehow managed to once again pull off bringing so much talent into one room, nabbing a cast that holds a candle to the original, including Edward Norton as tech guru Miles Bron (the owner of the Glass Onion), Kathryn Hahn as governor Claire Debella, and Kate Hudson as a carefree socialite named Birdie Jay, to name a few. There might not be a Chris Evans sweater moment, but they’re a good bunch that fit the tone of the film.
My biggest complaint isn’t even a complaint, but rather, an observation of how easily I was distracted by the name Andi, which should never be used for another character in a movie starring Hudson. True fans of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days will understand the sheer confusion of a movie referencing Andi but not actually referring to Hudson. That was a mystery in itself.
And just when you thought there couldn’t be more star power, there are plenty of Easter eggs and unexpected guest appearances—we’re looking at you, Hugh Grant.
The bottom line is that if you go in with zero expectations stemming from the first film, you won’t be disappointed. The films are distinctly different, but they’ll both make you put your detective skills to use.
It’s a worthy sequel that allows Johnson to flex his funny bone while doing what he does best—crafting a mystery that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. He proves that there isn’t one way, or a right way, to do a murder mystery, and what makes them so enjoyable and enticing every single time is that they are one giant game for everyone involved.
Where Can I Stream Knives Out?
The first Knives Out film is currently not streaming on Netflix, and there’s no word if the streaming giant will be able to acquire rights before the second film premieres.
However, you can still watch it on many other platforms. It is available on Amazon Prime, Youtube, Google Play Movies, Apple TV and Vudu for $3.99. You can also get it on Redbox for $1.99.
Knives Out 2 Cast?
Here’s a breakdown of the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery cast:
- Daniel Craig As Detective Benoit Blanc
- Edward Norton As Miles Bron
- Janelle Monáe As Cassandra “Andi” Brand
- Kathryn Hahn As Claire Debella
- Leslie Odom Jr. As Lionel Toussaint
- Kate Hudson As Birdie Jay
- Jessica Henwick As Peg
- Dave Bautista As Duke Cody
- Madelyn Cline As Whiskey
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Release Date
The second installment in the Knives Out franchise was released on November 23 for a limited theatrical run for about a week. It will now debut on Netflix on December 23, 2023, which is perfect for your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day viewing.
What to Watch
Something From Tiffany’s Review – A Love Story With Heart
‘Tis the season for Christmas movies, but Something From Tiffany’s has the makings of a classic romantic film that just so happens to take place around the holidays.
In fact, it shouldn’t even fall under the category of Christmas movies as the protagonist, Rachel (Zoey Deutch, is Jewish, and thus, the film falls under the Chrismukkah genre.
And that’s just one of the things that makes it stand out from the holiday herd.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD — Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the movie ***
It’s rare to find a film with so much heart amongst the manufactured and overly cheesy offerings that come out of this season but leave it to Reese Witherspoon to make it happen.
Witherspoon takes her wealth of knowledge about what it takes to create a successful romantic movie behind the scenes, letting a new generation shine on the screen and dazzle audiences… and they don’t let her—or us—down.
The plot of the film is fairly simple and straightforward—a switcheroo at Tiffany’s throws two relationships into turmoil—but what makes it stand out is the believable acting and chemistry between the leads, Deutch’s Rachel and Kendrick Sampson’s Ethan.
From their first meet-cute at the hospital, it’s clear that there’s an unspoken chemistry between Rachel and Ethan. You can feel that connection getting stronger with every line and every personal anecdote they share with each other, like Ethan opening up about his late wife or his idea for a novel, which he didn’t even disclose to his girlfriend Vanessa (Shay Mitchell).
But though they definitely acknowledge the attraction—how could they not?—they remain in denial, convincing themselves that they’re in the right relationships when everyone around them, particularly Rachel’s BFF and business partner Terri (Jojo T. Gibbs), knows that couldn’t be further from the truth. Terri serves as the film’s comical relief, though she doesn’t have to try hard at it, she just is with her witty one-liners and glaring distaste for Gary (Ray Nicholson), which is deserved.
Daisy, Ethan’s daughter, on the other hand, is the whip-smart preteen who knows that Vanessa is not the right woman for the job, but she’s going to let her dad figure that out on her own.
The whole gift from Tiffany’s mixup is a good excuse for Ethan not to look at the facts right away, as he’s so motivated to get the ring back. And he’s thrown a loop when he tries to Gary, the man hit by the car when they accidentally switched bags, and realizes that he used the ring to propose.
In Gary’s defense, he didn’t have any memory of what happened from his time shopping at Tiffany’s, so when Rachel opened the box, he assumed it was the purchase he made. However, that defense is short-lived as he definitely knew something was up when he found the receipt and saw that he bought a pair of earrings instead. And when Ethan finally came to confront him, Gary proved that he’s a self-centered jerk by pretending that he didn’t know what he was talking about and refusing to cop to his part in the messy situation.
The plot unfolds in a rather unpredictable way, which only adds to the enjoyment of viewers. Rachel doesn’t find out about the mixup through Gary or Ethan, who chose not to say anything because he didn’t want to hurt her. Instead, she learns the truth from the sales lady at Tiffany’s who remembered the ring and told her she sold it to the man and his daughter, Daisy. From there, Rachel realizes that Gary’s whole proposal felt like it was too good to be true because it was.
Nothing feels forced or contrived like in some formulaic holiday films—from the organic way Ethan and Rachel establish a relationship to Rachel’s decision to break up with Gary for reasons not associated with Ethan.
Ethan and Rachel are drawn to each other through sheer circumstance, and the more they spent around each other, their connection makes more and more sense. Their lives fit into each other as they have similar likes, interests, and outlooks, but it becomes clearer that his road is divulging from Vanessa’s, who has never been overly supportive of his career and didn’t want to move back to NYC. A common characteristic of the “other woman” in rom-coms is that she’s a bad person, but that’s not the case here. Vanessa is brilliant and accomplished, but at the end of the day, she’s just not Ethan’s person… and that’s okay.
The location could’ve easily shifted to a small town, but that’s also what distinguishes it from all the subpar and cheesy films churned out yearly—it embraces New York City. The leading lady isn’t some heartless, overworked and underappreciated career woman who needs to escape to find herself. A warmth radiates from Rachel, a self-assured boss babe who runs a bustling bakery/restaurant. Though she’s had her share of failures, she’s used them as motivation. So what if she eats too many pastries? And so what if I spend half the film wondering how she stays so lean after eating several cornettos a day? The point is, it’s possible for NYC not to be painted as the villain, but rather, the perfect backdrop for a holiday film with its bright twinkling lights, crisp snowflakes, and pristine decor that sets a magical mood.
It wasn’t the city inspiring Ethan to write, it was Rachel, and for someone who just got engaged, she couldn’t stop thinking about another man. And if someone you just met takes up permanent residence in your brain, it’s safe to say you should probably heed the warning.
As mentioned, I liked that Rachel’s feelings for Ethan didn’t lead to her split with Gary. There’s no doubt that they likely played a part, but Rachel could no longer avoid the unavoidable; she was at her wits end and made the move that was a long time coming, which gave her a clean slate to finally take the risk and follow her heart.
Ethan got a little push from his daughter, who informed him that he needed to get the girl through a big romantic gesture. It wasn’t a boombox, but a flower delivery asking Rachel to meet him at “their spot”—because yes, they already have one of those so early on which is how you know it’s right—if she feels the same way about him.
The film didn’t challenge the rom-com status quo because the formula already works (otherwise, we wouldn’t have all these films shoved down our throats each year), but it did gave it a bit of a facelift to keep it fresh and fun, which was enough to give the film some staying power.
And they addressed my one gripe with holiday flicks that end so abruptly once the lovers get together, leaving the audience hanging after they’ve just invested nearly two hours into this journey.
We deserve to know what happens after that first kiss, and when Something From Tiffany’s jumps one year forward, it’s clear the difference a year can make. Instead of a broken engagement, Ethan is getting down on one knee to pop the question with the something from Tiffany’s—the ring that was meant to be Rachel’s all along.
And all it took was one innocent mix-up.
Madelaine Petsch’s ‘Hotel for the Holidays’ Is a Gem Among Cliché Films
Freddie Prinze Jr. Is Back! Everything We Know About the ‘Christmas With You’ Heartthrob
Freddie Prinze Jr., the ’90s heartthrob, is back on our TV screens in Netflix’s newest holiday rom-com, Christmas With You.
In the film, Prinze Jr. stars as a Latino single father, Miguel Torres, who teaches music class at his daughter Cristina’s (Deja Monique Cruz) school when his path unexpectedly crosses with Angelina (Aimee Garcia), a burnt out popstar looking for her next Christmas hit.
The actor, who starred in hits like She’s All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer, admitted he felt pretty nervous getting back into the swing of things, but thankfully, it seems to be paying off as the film is being well-received by audiences for it’s heartwarming and important message.
And now, we’re answering some of your burning questions about the leading man!
What Ethnicity is Freddie Prinze Jr.?
Since Prinze Jr. stars as a Hispanic father, the question of his ethnicity has come up quite frequently. The star reportedly embraces his Latin ancestry as his paternal grandmother was Puerto Rican, from Boquerón, so he is fluent in Spanish. His mom is of Italian descent, along with German, English, and Irish.
Does Freddie Prinze Jr. Have Kids?
Prinze Jr. shares two children with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar—13-year-old Charlotte Grace Prinze and 10-year-old Rocky James Prinze.
In fact, the actor told TODAY that his return to acting has a lot to do with his daughter, stating, “My daughter has taken an interest in acting and performing, dance and things like that. So both my wife and I wanted to take a more active role to show her the way, so to speak, because we have very different processes (with) the way we deal with success and failure, rejection and acceptance and all those things.
“We wanted to give her an opportunity to see that it’s not just being famous, limousines and millions of dollars and all that. It requires a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work, time away from the people you love,” he added.
Freddie Prinze Jr. Age
Since many of us grew up watching Prinze Jr. in the ’90s and early ’00s, we still think of him as this teen actor, but the truth is that he is 46 years old.
Freddie Prinze Jr. Wife
As mentioned before, Prinze Jr. wed his Scooby-Doo co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in 2002. In fact, the couple met on the set of 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, but didn’t start dating until a few years later in 2000.
They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary together, with Gellar sharing a sweet photo from the nuptials in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Instagram.
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Who Plays Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Love Interest on Christmas With You?
Aimee Garcia, best known for her role as Jamie Batista in Showtime’s Dexter, takes on the role of Prinze Jr.’s love interest and pop sensation Angelina Chavez Torres, who visits the small town where Prinze Jr’s character, Miguel, lives with his daughter, who is preparing for her quinceanera. Her big holiday wish? To meet the pop star who remains the only connection to her late mom.
Christmas With You is currently airing on Netflix.
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