Anna (Laura Osnes) is on her way home to Smalltown, Connecticut for the holidays, barely staying ahead of an incoming storm. She stops for coffee at Donny’s Donuts and just like a god damned fairytale, she meets her prince charming. Okay, not actually literally Prince Charming, that would be ridiculous. Plus, he’s married. Happily ever after, I heard.
The guy she actually runs into is James (Aaron Tveit), crown prince of Galwick. And his mother, Queen Gabriella (Victoria Clark). They were in America for a charity function, but it’s back to Galwick for them, to deliver the Christmas Day address to the nation and other holiday-related royal duties, which I’m sure are numerous, and pressing. But oh no! This donut shop pit stop is turning into a nightmare. In the time it takes to order a round of tea, the storm has shut down roads and airports and threatens to not only ruin Christmas, but destroy the monarchy of Galwick.
Luckily, Anna’s dad (Tom McGowan) owns an inn that, despite being the town’s Christmas epicentre, has enough vacant rooms to accommodate a royal cortege. Prince James is awkward without his usual royal entourage. He doesn’t know how to talk to the normies. But bit by bit Anna and her medley of bougie friends melt the gilded cage around his heart and he’s searching job postings for Prince Wanted ads in Buttfuck Connecticut.
These Hallmark types know they’ve hit the jackpot when they can combine a Christmas romance with the added fairytale allure of becoming a princess. Everything else is just chocolate sauce. This was one of the first films back in action after the pandemic lockdown, which is why four venerable Broadway stars were available for the cast – and you have to admire the restraint in only allowing them one chance to sing, even if it is awkward. Do they make this a good movie? No they do not. Very little can save a holiday romance, and there was never any danger of that in One Royal Holiday.
But then again, who wouldn’t want to kiss a prince under the mistletoe?