In Let It Snow, Netflix delivers a cute young adult holiday romance that's comforting in its cheesiness, even if it doesn't break new ground.
Recent years have seen a major revival in the romantic comedy film genre, with more and more being released in theaters, but there's also been an increase in streaming services offering fans new rom-coms - particularly Netflix. With a number of successful teen-oriented rom-coms under its belt, Netflix's latest, Let It Snow, also ventures into the realm of holiday romance. Based on the novel of the same name with stories written by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, Let It Snow is a Love, Actually-style holiday teen rom-com with an ensemble cast and intertwining stories set in the small town of Laurel, Illinois. In Let It Snow, Netflix delivers a cute young adult holiday romance that's comforting in its cheesiness, even if it doesn't break new ground.
Let It Snow follows a number of high school students on their adventures around town during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. There's Julie (Isabela Merced), who's struggling to decide what to do after high school when she runs into pop star Stuart (Shameik Moore) on a train and the two hit it off. Meanwhile, Tobin (Mitchell Hope) spends the day avoiding telling his best friend, The Duke (Kiernan Shipka), that he's in love with her and grows increasingly jealous of her friend JP (Matthew Noszka). Best friends Dorrie (Liv Hewson) and Addie (Odeya Rush) get into a fight over Addie's relationship. Then, Dorrie runs into a girl she has feelings for, Kerry (Anna Akana), who's giving Dorrie mixed signals. Meanwhile, Addie is trying to track down her boyfriend who's not responding to texts, and winds up getting a ride from the town's resident eccentric, Tin Foil Woman (Joan Cusack). Eventually, all the teens wind up at the Waffle Town, where Keon (Jacob Batalon) is throwing a party.
Directed by Luke Snellin (Wanderlust, My Mad Fat Diary) from a script by Laura Solon (Office Christmas Party), Victoria Strouse (Finding Dory) and Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect), Let It Snow is a perfectly sweet, if by the numbers holiday rom-com. The movie's many storylines offer a chance for fans of romance to see multiple tropes of the genre play out on screen. There's the girl running into a celebrity and being unaffected by his charm - until she's not - as well as the boy in love with his best friend and the queer girl falling for a girl who giving mixed signals. However, Let It Snow never manages to develop these storylines beyond their cliches, largely because the movie has so much going on, it doesn't have time to offer much depth to any of the characters or their arcs. Further, though Solon, Strouse and Cannon's script makes a valiant effort to interweave all the stories of Let It Snow, the film still ends up feeling a bit disjointed. So when all the characters do come together at the Waffle Town party, it's not as climactic as the movie clearly meant for the scene to be.
Because the script of Let It Snow isn't very strong, much of the film's success comes down to the actors. Thankfully, Merced and Moore do much of the heavy lifting with grace, both being leads in their own right, with the former starring in Dora and the Lost City of Gold and the latter voicing Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Together, Moore and Merced showcase their chops as rom-com leads, and the two have chemistry to spare as Stuart and Julie, infusing their particular storyline with plenty of heart and romance. Hewson, too, is charmingly awkward as Dorrie, making her storyline all the more compelling - even as Akana isn't given much to work with as the hot-and-cold Kerry. Hope and Shipka are fine enough as Tobin and The Duke, but they never manage to capture the kind of easy chemistry the storyline requires, so their arc comes off more awkward than romantic. The rest of the cast is similarly underserved, though there is a nice camaraderie between Cusack's Tin Foil Woman and Rush's Addie that provides some needed counterbalance to the romance storylines - even if it's still underdeveloped.
Ultimately, Let It Snow may be aiming to be Love, Actually for teens - or, about teens - but it's neither as clever nor as well-written as Love, Actually. To be sure, Let It Snow is entertaining in its own right and has just the right amount of cheesy romance to be enjoyable for fans of teen rom-coms. It may not be quite Christmasy enough for viewers looking specifically for a holiday rom-com, since it's much more focused on the snowstorm than its Christmas Eve setting (in fact, its Christmas Eve setting doesn't make much sense if you think about it too hard). As a result, Let It Snow won't reach the heights of success that Love, Actually has seen since it was released, but Netflix's latest teen rom-com is sure to entertain viewers and earn its own fans. Let It Snow is perfectly cute and those looking for a holiday-ish rom-com to watch on a cold late fall, or early winter night will have a fun time with this movie.
Let It Snow is now streaming on Netflix. It is 92 minutes long and rated PG-13 for crude sexual material, strong language and teen partying.
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