In mid-November, Netflix gifted the world “A Christmas Prince,” a feel-good and also truly bonkers original holiday movie that would have been right at home on Lifetime or Hallmark this time of year. The movie quickly caught on with Netflix viewers, and probably would have gotten lost in every other schmaltzy offering if not for this tweet sent out Sunday night:
The response was massive (retweeted about 110,000 times so far) and alternated between amused and scornful: Wow, Netflix, way to shame your own viewers for watching a movie that you commissioned and featured and promoted on your streaming service. Also, it’s a creepy reminder that this company has access to loads of personal data about all of your viewing habits, and probably has drawn some other intriguing conclusions. And it might tweet about them.
Anyway, the “creepy tweet” kerfuffle has been in the news this week, so for those of you who are confused about this thing called “A Christmas Prince” that sparked such a controversy, here’s everything you need to know about the movie. Spoilers abound.
1. The plot
“A Christmas Prince,” written by Karen Schaler and Nathan Atkins and directed by Alex Zamm, joins a list of movies in which a royal and a very-much-non-royal have a meet-cute, one of them intensely dislikes the other, and then they almost immediately wind up in love. This particular movie rings similar to everything from 2004 classic “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” to fellow 2004 classic “The Prince and Me.”
It also joins a pantheon of films in which a female journalist falls for the man she’s writing about, so if that’s your trigger, steer clear. The film centers on Amber, an underappreciated 20-something copy editor in New York City who works at a magazine called Now Beat. Amber strives to be a serious journalist, but she can’t get any good story assignments — until the Now Beat editor wants to send someone to the little-known European country of Aldovia. The dashing young Prince Richard (the editor refers to him as “His Royal Hotness”), who has a reputation as an international playboy, is about to be named king. But the kingdom is going to hold a press conference in which he might abdicate the throne, and apparently chaos would ensue.
None of the other Now Beat writers are around — it is the week before Christmas — and Amber has a pulse, so she’s told to pack her bags. When she arrives in Aldovia, Richard ditches the press conference and a palace official sends the journalists away. Panicked about returning to New York without a story, Amber starts snooping around, only to be mistaken by a butler for Richard’s younger sister’s American tutor. She just rolls with it, and, all of a sudden, she’s going by the name Martha and living in the castle with the potential scoop of a lifetime as she goes undercover to see why this prince doesn’t want to be king.
Of course, she winds up bonding with the whole family and it becomes so much more than just a juicy assignment for work. And yes, at some point, Amber’s true identity is revealed and she utters the phrase, “You have to know I didn’t mean for this to happen!”
2. The plot holes
Oh, there are so many: Would a royal family just assume a woman wandering around the property is a tutor and not ask any other questions? Could Amber be any more obvious as she snaps multiple photos on her smartphone during a cocktail party? And seriously, “Now Beat” magazine?! As with any made-for-TV movie, you just need to go with it.
3. The low-budget nature is part of its charm
The movie was filmed at the Peles Castle in Romania, which is quite beautiful, but as Entertainment Weekly puts it, “The Aldovian castle is about as nice as a mid-level ski resort or the Bavarian pavilion at Epcot, and the whole court has a business-casual vibe.”
4. Unless you’re a CW fan, you might not recognize anyone in the movie
New Zealand actress Rose McIver, who plays Amber, stars on CW’s drama “iZombie” — and she might be the most identifiable face. Prince Richard is Ben Lamb, who you could recognize if you’re a fan of “The White Queen” on BBC and then Starz.
5. Yes, it’s different from Lifetime’s “My Christmas Prince.”
Why, that’s a completely different movie! “My Christmas Prince,” which debuted in early December on Lifetime, is all about Samantha (Alexis Knapp, “Pitch Perfect”), a 20-something teacher in New York City. When she goes home to Wisconsin for the holidays, she finds out that her seemingly normal boyfriend, Alex, is actually a prince who will become the king of the little-known European country of Madelvia. Not Aldovia. Got it? Good.