Continuing the dubious pleasure of reviewing random festive Netflix movies, next up was Christmas Crush AKA Holiday High School Reunion. This is a made for TV movie which Netflix must have picked up as part of a package deal or something.
This is another of those films which just happens at Christmas rather than being about Christmas. Here, I think it fails the “Is this a Christmas film?” test in that it could be set at any other time of the year with minimal changes. Also, do people have school reunions at Christmas?
Let me stress at the outset that I only watched this film because I wanted to see something trashy and not too Christmassy (it was nearly midnight on Christmas Day: I was all Christmassed out) and in an effort to watch a broader spectrum of movies, I opted for the festive rom-com. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…
I actually enjoyed this movie. Far more than I thought I would, given there aren’t any lasers nor Cthonian evil.
The plot is a bit better than Netflix would have you believe. Netflix describes it as “Twentysomething Georgia pines for her old boyfriend and is thrilled to have a second chance at love when she attends their high school reunion.” That’s not strictly true. She dumped her old boyfriend because she thought he was cheating on her but because she never had any proof, she romanticises their together and seeks to reclaim the “best thing she ever had.”
Georgia Hunt (played by Rachel Boston, which IMDB tells me has consistently worked since 2002, despite never having seen her in anything else) was voted “Girl most likely to succeed” at her prom. At school, she was popular and talented (head cheerleader and award winning glee club singer). After school, she hasn’t really amounted to much in the following 10 years.
I think that’s something we can all relate to. At school, there is a sense that the whole future is open to you but as time elapses, your options narrow and narrow until it’s almost like you are trapped in your chosen industry, paying off your loans toward the dream of homeownership (which is somewhat depressing as not paying someone else to live in their house is like the smallest of dreams). I mean, the trap isn’t actually real: at any time you could quit your job, sell your house and illegally emigrate to Australia. If you really wanted to.
But anyway, when Georgia hears about the reunion, she laments her life and romanticises her high school years. So obviously she decides to go and reconnect with her old high school boyfriend, Craig (played by Jon Prescott, who has also done quite a lot of work).
Once back in town, she bumps into her high school best friend, Ben (Jonathan Bennett, “that guy” who was in Mean Girls, Smallville and a load of other minor roles in TV and films). Georgia and Ben haven’t spoken in 10 years as he moved away and lost contact with everyone from high school.
It is clear from the outset that Ben was Duckie to her Andie at high school (Pretty In Pink) and moved away to forget about her. And if you have seen any films of this nature (Trojan War and Some Kind of Wonderful), you know how this movie is going to end…
Georgia ends up hanging out with her fellow former-cheerleader and glee club girlfriends, Tory, Katie and Heather (all attractive, relatively successful twentysomethings). Feeling somewhat inferior, she lies to them about her work (and if you have seen any amount of films, you know how that will play out too).
After the initial set up, the film is largely about the reunion itself. Despite the fact that you know exactly where the plot is going at all times, there is an honesty underlying the film that I found very refreshing. I feel like that the writer had something to say but was tasked with making a charming rom-com, so any edge or point she was trying to make is buried amongst the schmaltz. Still, it is there if you pay any thought to it.
The performances of the principle players are very good (Rachel Boston and Jonathan Bennett especially so) and purely through the power of good acting, you are shown just why Georgia enjoyed her time at school so much (because she was hot and fun and doing the splits could get you the coveted role of head cheerleader and you got to date the captain of the football team, things which mean nothing in real life).
As an aside: all the high school roles are played by the adult actors and actresses, who have pigtails and fringes to make them look younger. It doesn’t really work but then again, this is a trashy TV movie, why do you care?
The more Georgia explores her past, the more she realises that she wasn’t remembering her time at school as well as she thought. Most of the memorable things she had done at school weren’t with the boyfriend she regrets breaking up with, they were with her best friend, Ben.
This then causes her to question everything, including her reasons for breaking up with Craig in the first place. Ultimately, Georgia realises that none of it matters and comes clean about her lack of success outside of school (which others at the reunion also relate to). And, spoiler alert, she realises that Ben was the one she should have dated.
The message is that the things we do, and the things we are, in high school don’t really mean anything. The captain of the football team might be a good quality at school but outside? Things like personality, interests and applicable skill sets are far more important outside of that fishpond.
Furthermore, it is easy to romanticise the past (take the very cringe-worthy dance routines the glee club won awards for 10 years ago but now look ridiculous), especially if your present is not that much fun.
The movie does a good job of remaining fun and light (if not exceptionally cheesy at times) but still having a valid and important message at its heart. As I said, this is a trashy TV movie but it was far more fun and far more interesting than it ought to be.
TLDR; “Strong performances from the principle players and decent writing elevate this trashy sounding TV movie into a worthwhile 1 hour something.”