Christmas at the Palace. Two of my favorite words in one title? Yes, please!
In all fairness, I was going to watch this live Thanksgiving night, but after a day of cooking and dish-washing, I just fell asleep during some other show, so I’m glad my DVR still has some room on it so I can cozy up on Black Friday, blanket and hot chocolate all ready like the cliche of all Hallmark movie lovers, for this soon-to-be gem that I know nothing about other than it has Christmas, a Palace, and some ice skating in it. Let’s dive in!
Opening vision of a skater doing stuff around some Christmas trees has me less than thrilled – as she’s very slow. But her braided hair is on point. This is apparently a Christmas tour, with two best friends who are going to finish this ice capades tour, go home, buy an ice rink and never travel again. But before they do that, they are off to San Senova, a tiny country (is it near Lichtenstein?) for one final tour date.
Cut to King Alex of San Senova, bemoaning the fact that his best friend, Nicholas, calls him Your Majesty, and not Alex. And apparently King Alex is being labeled by the local press as The Grinch King. And he’s got a daughter, Princess Christina, who he never sees, and who takes skating lessons. Aww, he calls her Tina-Bear. Her bedroom has the scariest nutcracker decoration in it. Seriously, it’s like 8 feet tall. That’s a room full of nightmares, no question about it.
Background on San Senova – it was founded on Christmas Eve, and there’s all sorts of to-dos there, a Christmas Market, and there is a ton of fake snow everywhere. There, that’s all you need to know. King Alex is in the town square to open the Market, and what do you think, but Nicholas the right hand man just has a brief meet cute with the 2nd girl lead (we still don’t know their names) while 1st girl lead (she was in A Winter Prince) is buying a ballerina figure skater ornament. She has a great blow-out going on. I wish I had that hair. For some reason she leaves the Christmas Market and has her own meet cute with King Alex, where they immediately banter about having Christmas spirit. Who are these people? Seriously, who has this type of banter the second after you bump rudely into someone behind a stage? But he’s got swoony eyes on her as she walks away, even if he’s nervous about giving a speech about Christmas. He’s also really clumsy – he just trashed the stage just by stepping to the left.
Final show of the 2 girls’ tour – Princess Christina is in attendance, and looking jealously at the little kids who are there with their families, while she’s just there with her Great Aunt Patricia.
I do not believe for ONE FREAKING MINUTE that this ice skating show is good enough for a European tour.
We find out that Lead 1 is Katie Hendricks, and Lead 2 is Jessica Lewis. Princess Christina is breathless with excitement at meeting Katie, so one must assume she was a great skater who is no longer performing. Tragic backstory? Career Ending Injury? Just lost the magic of skating and now prefers to be behind the scenes? The mind whirls. Through the magic of exposition, we learn that Katie was a 3 time world champion, almost Olympian, who just choreographs now. And Princess Christina wants help with her spiral, and she has a rink at her Palace. Of course she does.
Jessica and Katie are Jersey Girls! That’s where they can’t wait to go home to. Speaking as one, born and raised, meh.
Katie is lost on her way to the loo inside this Palace and barges in on the King in his study. King Alex does not introduce himself as King Alex, and they have more banter. Then we cut to the indoor ice rink which is like an ice ballroom and there are WAY too many Christmas decorations in it. But we get the germ of the idea that will bring King Alex and Katie more into contact with each other – apparently previous King wanted to host an ice skating pageant in the ice ballroom celebrating Founder’s Day – which is 2 weeks away – and Princess Christina successfully guilts her dad into partially agreeing to the idea.
Off Best Friend Nicholas goes to fetch Katie and Jessica, and swoony eyes between the 2nd leads is off the charts. And now Katie knows that King Alex, is King Alex, and all this happened before the first commercial break.
Katie does not want to do all this work in 13 days, and Jessica looks like a Disney Princess and just wants to live the Palace life. So that, plus the hefty check the king is paying for their services, plus how cute Nicholas is, means that the 2 Jersey Girls are staying at the Palace! But before they can really make a decision, they need to know what the pageant would entail, which means that the two girls, plus Princess Christina and Great Aunt Patricia need to go walking in the town square. Why can’t they have this discussion near the fire in the Palace? I’m sure the Palace had cookies. But the walk does it, they decide to stay.
Katie’s shown to her room that is again, overly decorated for Christmas – even the dress rack that the Palace staff sent up with sample dresses for the formal events is decorated with red ribbon. Seriously. So.much.greenery.
Formal reception – they are all dressed up, and King Alex offers his arm to Katie in the doorway – which I honestly think is a breach of etiquette.
Off Katie and Jessica go to produce a skating pageant in 12 days! Inside the aptly named, San Senova Christmas Shop, Katie just scored a donation for set decor, when in walks the King, flustering the shop assistant, and then Katie leaves without getting any particulars about what the shop is actually going to donate, or when it will be delivered, or any practical matters. Why was the King there, were you wondering? Picking up cards for the palace staff, into which he’d give money. And Katie gift-shames him because money is so impersonal. Shut up, Katie.
Christina is skating in her own rink, and Katie is really impressed. And she gives Christina a pep-talk about skating in front of people, and King Alex overhears with more swoony eyes – so much swoony eyes that it makes King Alex seek Katie out to pour out the backstory of his dead wife, and why Christina is so hard on herself – she’ll be Queen one day – way to be progressive, San Senova. But we also get King Alex telling Katie she can call him Alex…le sigh.
There are chandelier standing lamps in this ice rink. Crazy.
King Alex has a surprise for Tina Bear – they’re going to decorate their own Christmas Tree. And poor, starved for love Tina Bear thinks this is the very best thing ever. Oh, dear. I hope it’s not like last year at my house. Many broken ornaments. Christina also begs to let Katie come with them to pick out the tree – and all these trees are covered in snow, which means it’s going to drip all over the Palace floor when it thaws out. King Alex and Katie are being photographed together, and we get Katie’s admission that she was Prom Queen, which you KNOW is going to come into the movie again later when King Alex makes his undying declaration of love. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Christina has found the perfect tree. And Magically, as they carry it from the tree lot – there is no more snow on it.
Perfect Christmas Tradition – King Alex is fidgeting with the Christmas Lights. And Jessica and Nicholas get to have their own heart-to-heart. Oh, Nicholas is asking Jessica out – way to go Nicholas.
Drink – they ooh and aah over the Christmas Tree.
Oh, crap, next day Jessica sprains her ankle, and no skating for 3 weeks, but the pageant is in 9 days. Katie can’t skate it – she’s got her ‘old injury.’ And we also find out that there’s an ice rink near Trenton that they might be buying – they need to see pictures first. (Aww, Nicholas brings her the ugliest get well flowers.)
King Alex is coming to Katie for gift advice because of the gift-shaming on the money envelope. So off they go back to the Christmas Market, and her advice is to get the Palace staff Christmas Ornaments, or something personalized, and her final thought is to do handmade Christmas stockings for everyone in the palace. Seriously, Katie. Off they go to sew in the dining room. King Alex is suitably flustered, but game to try his hand at a glue gun, or something. We also find out that King Alex has a massive inferiority complex about his dead dad being a better king than he is.
Where is this Palace – I need to know, it’s pretty. – Note – it’s Romania, the home for many, many, many Royal Hallmark movies.
Nicholas tries for a man-to-man talk about how it’s ok to like Katie, but Alex shuts him down pronto. We’re not ready for that talk, apparently. So off Nicholas goes to talk with Jessica. The actor playing Nicholas is weird, but they’re going on their date the next day.
Oh dear Lord, Christina is having another issue about performing in front of people, so another pep talk is in store. Katie gets Christina to skate again, but doing so, she maligns Cinderella, and I will not have that, Katie! But anyhoo, we also get Katie offering to do the fill-in for Jessica’s role in the pageant.
Jessica and Nicholas’s date involves her limping around the market, without a cane or anything. That ankle is not going to heal, Jessica. But then they hold hands, and it’s all forgiven. Jessica is in LOOOOOOVE. And she wants to share the loooooove, so she volunteers Katie to help bake cookies with King Alex and Christina.
Katie does not want to get back on the ice, and she backs out of rehearsing (even though the pageant is days away) and they head to the kitchen to bake cookies for the Royal Christmas Tea party. This is the worst Tea Party ever. King Alex also takes Katie aside to show off his gifts for the staff – a scarf and some spoons (it’s nicer than it sounds). They also espy Nicholas and Jessica (who is in HEELS on a sprained ankle) being all giggly and cutesy.
Midnight occurs, Katie can’t sleep, so she goes wandering the halls, sees Alex reading by the firelight. He apparently doesn’t like what he’s reading, and gladly sacrifices his reading time to help her make hot chocolate. Another heart-to-heart occurs – Katie doesn’t really want to go home, because home is where her mom was, and she’s in Heaven now, so she’s unsure about where to go. We also know that Katie doesn’t date because her mom died and she doesn’t want to get close to anyone else again. And Alex didn’t want to date after his wife died, but now he’s ready to find that special person. Katie is oddly tanned for it being December. And King Alex also proclaims that if Katie would come to the stuffy Christmas Eve Dinner, he’d seat her right next to him, which is CLEARLY a breach of etiquette and seating charts.
Jessica is jonesing for this ice rink in Trenton, and she has to fly home to make sure no one else buys it. Nicholas says he’ll come visit. Yeah, sure he will.
Christina is waiting to practice with Katie, because Katie does not want to skate. She’s scared to get back out there, because of her ‘old injury.’ It’s time for King Alex to give her a pep talk and yay, it works.
Christina is caroling with her urchin friends in some very scary Santa robes in the middle of the town square. King Alex makes it, and Christina is happy, and of course, there’s a paparazzo there to catch a glimpse of Katie and King Alex looking cute together. There have been very many shutterbugs catching this throughout the movie, but nothing has hit the papers yet – what are they waiting for? Is San Senova a magic place where no one sells images to tabloids?
Another heart-to-heart with King Alex and Katie – with star metaphors and Katie is not subtle with her need for him to hold her hand and put his face next to hers. Dude, Katie, have some chill. But they are kiss blocked by Jessica and on her cell phone – the rink needs an answer. Katie says she’ll be home in 4 days, can the rink wait that long – and that reminder is enough for King Alex to shutter his desire for a smooch in the starlight and go inside.
Next scene is King Alex sadly wrapping presents. He can’t understand ribbon, but I think now is the time for the man-to-man talk with Nicholas, who shows him (finally) a front page article with a picture of him and Katie. But Nicholas is like, it’s fine, man. Tell her how you feel, so off he goes to do just that, but he bungles it as spectacularly as Darcy bungles his first proposal and we’re in The Sad Times, interrupted by Jessica calling to get more guidance on this Trenton Ice Rink, which means that Katie is going home one day before the pageant, ducking out on her skating with Christina, and disappointing Princesses everywhere.
King Alex does The Sad Times AMAZINGLY WELL. Bravo King Alex!
Now Christina is not going to skate in the pageant and it’s the day of the pageant, and King Alex steps up and offers to skate with Christina, and that makes no sense – oh, and he’s just cancelled the Christmas Eve dinner that no one wanted to go to.
The Trenton Ice Rink is theirs, and Jessica gifts Katie new skates, and then tells Katie to go after the thing she really loves, which is King Alex and San Senova. So Jessica can run the ice rink by herself — or is she by herself? Nope! Nicholas arrives to assist! He also brings with him the gift from the king – he didn’t even put tape on it. He sent her an ugly Christmas star for the top of a tree (there was a whole thing about stars) so it meant something to her.
Performance Day! Katie magically shows up and is in costume and everything. Eyes lock across the ice and cue the heartfelt speech about how Christmas is amazing. All the San Senovians love his speech, and now its time for ice skating. How on earth does Katie do a Biellmann spin without even warming up??????
“Katie, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m the King and you’re the Prom Queen. I’m just a man who loves a woman who hopes she loves him back.” TOLD YOU. Kiss in front of the Christmas Tree, and we’re done.
Well, this was no Crown for Christmas, but it wasn’t awful. King Alex did The Sad Times and Katie had great hair. No Sassy Friends, though. Points for being nice to New Jersey.
There are a lot more on my DVR, but I’m glad I got this one off my list, just so you don’t have to.