I sat down to watch A Fairytale Christmas full of hope; if there are two subgenres I love in cinema, they’re fairytale reference narrative and bad seasonal movie. Maybe I should have spotted the alternate title for the film, Christmas Belle, and I would’ve been able to let myself down gently. Yes, you guessed it; it is just a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Haylie Duff (AKA “No, not Hilary Duff”) plays Belle, who loves books. However, unlike Disney’s lovely Paige O’ Hara Belle who carries her novels with her and marvels at libraries, Duff’s Belle just blurts out her likes and dislikes whenever it takes the writer’s fancy. She’s being courted by some clean shaven Gaston type who compares the two would-be lovers to roses because they “look nice together”. Upping sticks to get away from the worst chat-up lines known to man, Belle heads off to manage the estate of a stubbly, moody guy called Hunter. Everybody’s scared of his beautiful house for no reason, except maybe it reminds them that his wife died (as most eligible Christmas film heroes have suffered). Hunter doesn’t do much except for wander about topless (yes, you’re ripped, we get it) and introduce his dog, Beast. No, interesting and gross as that might have been, Belle does not shack up with the dog.

Though judging by her reaction to seeing Hunter, maybe...?
Though judging by her reaction to seeing Hunter, maybe…?

We follow the plot as if the creative team hadn’t really read or seen Beauty and the Beast for a while so were just filling in the blanks with their own assumptions of plot. We do still have the sequence with Belle entering the forbidden quarter (a solarium which the late wife loved to cultivate roses in), but it doesn’t have any of the imagery or beauty of the original. Even Belle’s reason for snooping is hella lame: she wanted to take photos so the house could be valued at a higher price. Yeah, who needs curiosity or other endearing qualities in a main character? They should be interested in cold hard business only. It’s as if somebody squatted over a copy of Beauty and the Beast and took a big boring dump on it.

Calling A Fairytale Christmas actually Christmassy is a step too far. Nobody so much as mentions the “hawlidaze”, and the only party thrown at the end is the “yay for selling a house” party. It’s just like that first house sold, over 2000 years ago…What a magical night it was. Granted, we do get a festive montage of Belle decorating a study, but it’s the worst piece of montage I’ve seen possibly ever. It feels like two hours of baubles being picked up over some cheap red fabric, painfully slowly. If you want to bore yourself for 90 minutes, be my guest.

Rating: Ho/Ho Ho Ho.

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