There are three little words you’re probably going to think over and over when you’re watching A Christmas Prince 3. ‘What. Is. Happening?’ I mean, it’s the third movie in the franchise so we’re familiar with the rhythm of it by now BUT this was a whoooole new level of what is happening?!
Let’s recap. Queen Amber and King Richard got married at the end of the last movie – having saved the people of Aldovia from a cruel plot to embezzle a heap of public money. Queen Amber (journalist extraordinaire) proved her mettle and became an even more beloved part of the Aldovian monarchy.
Now, she’s pregnant, and in case you didn’t realise that, she touches her belly about thirty-seven times a minute. The king of Aldovia and the king of neighbouring Penglia need to sign a treaty (by midnight on the 24th of December because of course) but alas, before the signing can take place, the ancient document is stolen and terrible consequences are in the offing (cue dum dum dummmm music).
We’re also subjected treated to a couple of side relationships. Melissa and Simon (aka bad boy would-be throne thief and Amber’s NYC bestie), and Emily (who is a highlight in this franchise) and her high school boyfriend.
Here’s the crux – and it’s a pretty flimsy one but the whole movie is framed around this premise: if the treaty’s not found and signed by midnight on Christmas Eve, Amber and Richard’s baby will be (dum dum dummmmm) cursed! And two sensible, rational, economically motivated countries will instantly be plunged into a state of WAR because OF COURSE.
I got to thinking how much more bearable I might have found the movie if I’d turned it into a drinking game and had a shot of something every time Amber lovingly caressed her baby bump.
Without further ado, and with all the pomp of an Aldovian royal baby shower, let’s recap (warning, spoiler alert):
- I feel like no one read this script until they recorded it. Why are they speaking like this? The dialogue is seriously, achingly awkward. ‘That was amazing! For a moment, I almost forgot about everything.’ ‘It’s going to be fine. With us and the baby.’ ‘I hope so.’
- Where are the palace staffers!? The royal obstetrician crashes into a snow bank (let’s not even talk about the fact she’s driving to the palace without any kind of police escort while the queen is having regular and frequent contractions surges) and King Richard leaves his wife mid-labour to ride horseback to fetch the obstetrician to the castle. This is not your job right now! A priceless, politically important document goes missing and the royal family tango with cobwebs beneath beds leading the hunt for the document themselves? Guys, you have people for that! All the people!
- Amber and Richard discussing what they want their child’s life to be like for what seems like the first time when she’s eight months pregnant…
- Let’s not even talk about Amber’s ‘labour’. Contractions – sorry, surges – that were basically silent, surrounded by a group of people, then a full breakdown of who stole the parchment when she’s minutes away from having a baby? Suuuure. That’s just what labour’s like.
- Two kings walk into a room and assemble a cot. No, it’s not a joke, though it’s kind of laughable given their countries stand on the brink of war unless they, you know, talk and form a new treaty to avoid it.
- Amber’s been married to Richard for about three seconds and Aldovia seems like a beautiful, ancient kingdom steeped in wonderful traditions. It’s also a kingdom that enabled a ‘playboy’ prince to flourish and a widowed queen to rule for years after her husband’s death, which seems pretty progressive to me. In light of this, Amber’s obsession with bringing the kingdom into the ‘21st century’ is actually just really bloody annoying – not to mention painfully condescending.
- Melissa and Simon… Melissa spends most of the movie justifiably jealous of Simon (who’s getting up close and personal with a beautiful and intelligent ex-girlfriend and who is – on camera – wildly inattentive to Melissa whenever his ex is around), then she decides he’s stolen the parchment and throws him under the bus with Amber and Richard, only to weepingly, joyously accept his Christmas Eve proposal!?
- Soheil and Andy’s relationship had so much potential and I really wish the producers had gone all the way with this.
- Amber refusing what looks like PARACETAMOL during LABOUR because she wants her mind to be sharp…
- I feel like I have to revisit the fact that Amber solves The Mystery of the Missing Parchment Jessica-Fletcher style while she’s MID-LABOUR.
- They sign an invaluable, centuries-old piece of parchment, a very important treaty, on the bed while Amber’s in labour. The calligraphy pen they use barely works. It looks like chicken scratching. This doesn’t feel very authentic, y’all.
- King Tai’s song tribute…say it with me: What. Is. Happening?
- The baby gets named Elleri, after Amber’s mum. While that’s a really sweet and understandable sentiment, this is the heir to the Aldovian throne and there are traditions, Amber, traditions. Not to mention the name is pretty obscure, but if you weren’t married to a freaking king, have at it, no problems. But you did marry a king and you must have known that would mean you have to give the kids more traditional monikers. And now there’s a Princess Elleri and a Princess Emily in the kingdom!? That’s just annoying.
I’m a sucker for an aesthetically pleasing set and this is, indeed, that. Aldovia is just the kind of fictional kingdom I’d love to visit. If you can blot out the characters getting in the way of the stunning interiors and snowscapes, you’ll get a lot out of it. Maybe watch it on mute.
- The queen mother – I’m not entirely sure how the producers managed to get her on board for a third installation of this franchise but she’s definitely a high point.
- The baby shower Soheil and Andy throw Amber could have gone in either column. It was entirely bizarre and lavish, kind of boring, but also weirdly charming (but this could also be the filmic equivalent of Stockholm syndrome).
I really can’t understand why but yes, I cried. The final scene was cheesy and frustrating and thoroughly implausible but there was enough Christmas cheer to give me what I ultimately want from this kind of offering.