Netflix's The Knight Before Christmas is a perfectly charming holiday rom-com, with plenty of time-travel hijinks and a valiant effort from its stars.
With Lifetime and Hallmark previously cornering the landscape of made-for-TV holiday romantic comedies, Netflix has made an effort in recent years to join in. Thanks to successes like The Christmas Prince (which launched its own franchise of royal-themed holiday movies), Netflix has become more of a destination for fans of the holiday rom-com genre - though whether its films are of the same quality as either Lifetime or Hallmark is debatable. Its latest entry in this niche genre is The Knight Before Christmas, telling the story of a time traveling knight who finds love after being transported to modern day. Netflix's The Knight Before Christmas is a perfectly charming holiday rom-com, with plenty of time-travel hijinks and a valiant effort from its stars.
The story of The Knight Before Christmas begins in 1334 England, where Sir Cole Christopher Frederick Lyons (Josh Whitehouse) is searching for a quest that will make him a true knight when he stumbles upon an old crone who transports him to 2019 Ohio. With just a few days until Christmas, the old crone tells Cole he must fulfill his quest before midnight on Christmas Eve or he'll be stuck in the future. Cole runs across schoolteacher Brooke Winters (Vanessa Hudgens), who's disillusioned in love after being cheated on by her ex-boyfriend. Though she's unconvinced by Cole's story that he's a 14th Century knight, she endeavors to give him a place to live and help him in his quest. Along the way, Cole and Brooke grow closer and develop feelings for one another, but it remains to be seen if their fledgling romance can survive their strange circumstances.
The Knight Before Christmas was written by Cara J. Russell and directed by Monika Mitchell, both of whom have experience in direct-to-TV holiday fare. The former wrote the short My Christmas Grandpa for Lifetime and the latter helmed both Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies (The Christmas Contract and Christmas Joy). As such, The Knight Before Christmas feels right at home in the incredibly niche and charmingly schmaltzy rom-com genre that's reached new heights of popularity in recent years. Certainly, the incorporation of a time traveling knight is a little outside the box for holiday rom-coms (though not within the romance genre as a whole), which typically stay rooted firmly in realism. But Russell's script waves a magic wand and doesn't get into the difficult details of how a 14th Century knight would acclimate to modern times so easily. Instead, Sir Cole's fish-out-of-water situation is played largely for laughs, and to give Brooke a gallant love interest.
Thankfully Hudgens is enough of a star to make the dynamic work and sell the not-so-satisfying answers the film gives about time travel. Hudgens is becoming one of Netflix's regular stars, with The Knight Before Christmas being her second holiday rom-com after 2018's The Princess Switch (which is getting a sequel in 2020). Whitehouse, too, works especially well as the charmingly confounded Sir Cole, though the knight's personality tends to be tailored to the scene rather than the character being a well-developed player in the story. Still, Hudgens and Whitehouse bring a sweet vulnerability to their characters, and they have enough chemistry together that viewers will be endeared by their romantic journey. The supporting players of The Knight Before Christmas don't get much to do - though Emmanuelle Chriqui has a fun camaraderie with Hudgens as Brooke's sister Madison - but that's fairly typical of holiday rom-coms like this. To be sure, this is Hudgens and Whitehouse's movie and they have a cute romance amid the time travel antics and holiday preparations.
Sure, The Knight Before Christmas doesn't make much sense as far as movie plots go. Russell's script tends to be a little heavy-handed with the trite messages about love and faith during the holidays as a way to avoid diving too in depth into what exactly Cole's quest is, why he was brought to the future and how exactly Cole and Brooke's relationship could ever survive their monumentally different life experiences. But holiday rom-coms should have a certain amount of cheesiness to them, and The Knight Before Christmas delivers plenty of dependably charming romance tropes. So long as viewers haven't already gotten a cavity from holiday treats (or other sugary sweet rom-coms), The Knight Before Christmas is sure to satisfy fans of the genre.
As such, The Knight Before Christmas is worth checking out for fans of romance, especially the specific kind of holiday rom-com that has become so popular in recent years. Being on Netflix, The Knight Before Christmas is an easily enjoyable watch with friends and family or alone on the couch. And with clear sequel setup, Netflix seems confident The Knight Before Christmas will capture the hearts of viewers in the same way as The Christmas Prince - though the streamer might've been a bit too hasty in that. Even if The Knight Before Christmas never quite rises to the highest ranks among the (many) other holiday rom-coms, it's a noble effort from Netflix and should provide some fine holiday fun.
The Knight Before Christmas is now streaming on Netflix. It is 92 minutes long and rated TV-PG.
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