Let it Snow (2019)

I’m no misanthrope, but it’s tough to find great new Christmas movies, even though Hollywood does keep trying no matter what. I went in with low expectations with “Let It Snow” but took the chance thanks to the great cast, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to remember a Christmas movie that feels so down to Earth and unassuming than “Let It Snow.” It has every chance to be so saccharine and cloying, but it instead insists on a very sweet and engaging tone with some genuinely engaging characters.

During a snowstorm in a small town, a group of high school students cruise around experiencing their own personal holiday woes as they prepare for the big Christmas party at The Waffle Town. Julie (Isabela Merced), who is struggling to decide what to do after high school due to her terminally ill mother, runs into a pop star (Shameik Moore) on a train who takes a liking to her. Tobin (Mitchell Hope) grasps with his feelings for his long time best friend, The Duke (Kiernan Shipka), and grows increasingly jealous of her friend JP (Matthew Noszka). Meanwhile, Dorrie (Liv Hewson) runs into a Kerry (Anna Akana), a girl she has feelings for, who is hesitant to return her feelings. All the while, Dorrie’s sister Addie (Odeya Rush) is anxiously tracking down her boyfriend who’s not responding to texts.

While “Let It Snow” is a bit sugary in some instances (everyone flocks to the town’s only apparent restaurant), it’s such an entertaining and heartfelt ensemble picture that flaunts some of the best talent working today. Director Luke Snellin tries hard to create his own young adult version of “Love Actually,” and while he doesn’t quite hit that high bar, he succeeds in highlighting a lot of his cast’s talents. In particular, there’s the great sub-plot involving Dorrie who shared a romance with school cheerleader Kerry and is struggling to come to grips with her feelings as Kerry reacts to her affections awkwardly. I was also a fan of the love triangle between Tobin, his friend Duke, and her friend JP as he struggles to tell her how he feels about her.

This sub-plot is helped by the utterly adorable Kiernan Shipka, who is able to play pretty much any character at this point. The script by Laura Solon (Office Christmas Party), Victoria Strouse (Finding Dory) and Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect) manages to balance out the various sub-plots very well, building a film that’s a mix of sweet and sad without ever devolving in to overbearing manipulation. Snellin directs with soft, subtle tones perfectly fit for the snowy aesthetic and accessible message about unity and love. I was never too keen on the framing device of Joan Cusack’s eccentric almost sentient character; however, “Let It Snow” gets a pass for being entertaining and wholesome while embracing the rich modern diversity of this generation. I can definitely see myself re-watching this very soon as the holidays approach, even if it’s imperfect.

Now Streaming on Netflix.