Hotel for the Holidays is a simple, charming Christmas movie that doesn’t really try to break the mold, and maybe because of that, absolutely succeeds at being a comforting holiday watch. Doesn’t hurt that Madelaine Petsch and Mena Massoud are both charming individuals and that there’s chemistry in spades between the two of them. And though it’s hard to truly invest in the multitude of stories happening in this “charming” hotel, the movie does enough to entertain, and at times, even make you go awww.
If there’s one negative thing to be said about the movie it’s that a lot is happening — almost too much at times, and the more characters you introduce, the more you’re asking your audience to split their focus. We have to choose who to love, we don’t have space for everyone. But though the ensemble cast means the movie doesn’t really have time to develop all storylines the way it could, there’s something to be said about the fact that the movie doesn’t really try.
This is what it is, and a deep story about different people coming together to make a family …well, it is that, but it also isn’t. Instead, it’s a tale about how a woman fights for her dream and then somehow decides to give it up because eh, the people she loves couldn’t possibly still love her if she weren’t around them 24/? But then everything turns out well anyway? No, wait, that’s not it (well, it actually also is, but that’s not the important part). Instead, it’s a story about what it means to find your place in the world.
And if that’s not what Christmas movies are supposed to be about, then what is it?
No, Hotel for the Holidays isn’t a very deep movie, and at times, it doesn’t really make all that much sense. Like, can someone explain the Santa? Or the random prince? No? Okay, moving on. The point of the movie isn’t for all those things to make sense, just like the point of most Christmas movies isn’t to be realistic. No one truly watches Christmas movies for realism, we watch them for the pretty decorations, the romance and the sense of belonging.
Hotel for the Holidays has all that, and it also has Mena Massoud, who should really be the male lead in all romantic comedies from now on. Literally all of them. Give him one for every genre. There’s only one bed! Amnesia! Caught under the mistletoe! Give him every trope in the book, I’m sure he can not just handle it, but make it work. Very few actors do as good “in love” face as Massoud does, and the fact that he isn’t a big star after Aladdin is just a sad reflection of Hollywood’s diversity issues. But he is a star in my heart, and I will watch whatever cheesy movie he does next, just as I’ve watched his last two.
So, if you just want something simple, heartfelt and charming, led by two stars who are pretty and look like they actually like each other — well, Hotel for the Holidays isn’t a bad choice. It’s no instant classic, but for Massoud’s smile, we’ll not only watch, we’ll probably smile through it too.
Hotel for the Holidays is now streaming on Freevee.