Perhaps you’ve heard of “Falling for Christmas,” a 2022 Netflix original movie that stars Lindsay Lohan and is directed by someone without a Wikipedia page. If you were so inclined, you could watch this movie right now on Netflix, but I can’t in good faith recommend that you do that. The truth is that this sort of thing is best left to a professional – namely, me.
Allow me to offer you an alternative: Rather than spend an hour and a half watching this movie (or an hour watching it using Netflix’s 1.5x video speed option, which, I must admit, improves it considerably), you should instead spend a mere ten minutes reading my “Falling for Christmas” diary, which lays out the key developments minute by excruciating minute.
0:00 We soar over the mountains in some unnamed Western locale as dreamy Christmas music swells. The world feels bright and full of possibility. It will not last.
0:01 As credits roll, we are treated to a montage of ski-resort shots, including a rising drone shot of the hotel’s outdoor hot tub full of revelers.
Do you like this sort of thing? You will be seeing it again.
0:02 Sierra Belmont – the spoiled daughter of Beauregard Belmont, the hotel magnate – awakens in her hotel suite and has an exposition-packed conversation with her boyfriend, Tad. “When people look at me, all they see is the spoiled daughter of Beauregard Belmont, the hotel magnate,” complains Sierra, the spoiled daughter of Beauregard Belmont, the hotel magnate.
0:04 Jake Russell – not to be confused with Jack Russell, which is a type of dog – appears on screen and is revealed to be the humble, hard-working owner of a normal-sized ski resort. He pitches an investment opportunity to Sierra’s father and is rebuffed.
As we’ll see later, this is a smart move on the part of ol’ Beauregard. Jake is a real moron and an absolute liability as a business manager.
0:07 Once again, but not for the last time: A rising drone shot of the hotel’s outdoor hot tub.
0:08 Clumsy all-American ski resort owner Jake Russell bumps into Sierra – literally – in what appears to be a meet-cute and major moment for the film.
0:18 Tad takes Sierra to a secluded mountaintop spot and proposes. They both fall down to the mountain and are separated. Sierra knocks her head against a tree and is out cold. She is soon rescued by Jake, who does not recognize her. We’ll soon learn that this goes both ways, rendering the meet-cute coffee disaster scene from ten minutes earlier totally irrelevant. It never really comes up again.
0:21 We arrive at the “Health Clinic,” which seems to be some sort of urgent care facility with hospital beds. Sierra’s condition is complicated; “Physically, she's alright; minor concussion,” explains the doctor, before somewhat undermining that conclusion by revealing that Sierra has no memory of her life before the accident.
“What are we supposed to do with her?” asks the doctor, whom one might think should know.
After displaying further evidence of head trauma, Sierra is sent home with Jake to stay at his resort, the North Star.
0:26 After a break in the action to catch up with Tad (he’s alive), we are reunited with Sierra, who is traumatized by seeing a Racoon through a window.
It’s worth mentioning that, at this point, the rules of Sierra’s amnesia seem abundantly clear: She does not remember who she is, but she does remember that she prefers the high life and hates all manner of woodland creatures, rustic settings, and so on. The reason that I’m mentioning this is that the very simple rules of this premise fall apart almost immediately.
0:29 Another delightful Tad intermezzo ends (he has found refuge in a mountain shack with an ice fisherman) and we are once again with Sierra. Half-asleep, she hits the remote and is jarred awake by Netflix’s trademark BA-DUM. As she stares in horror at Netflix on her TV, I can’t help but identify with her.
Throwing open the shades, she shudders in horror at the sight of a happy upper-middle-class family. Then a child comes in – it’s Avy, Jake's daughter – and Sierra is a woman transformed. She talks to the girl about her mother (tragically, but conveniently, dead) and borrows a new name, Sarah, from a stuffed animal. (I’ll just keep calling her Sierra.)
0:31 Sierra insists on making her own breakfast. Bafflingly, the whole premise – that Sierra has forgotten that she’s rich, but remembers to be snobby, and thus still needs a journey of personal growth – is already in shambles.
0:32 Suddenly, the premise is back. “I don’t do bacon,” sneers the woman who was trying to cook her own rustic breakfast thirty seconds ago.
0:33 Drone shot of the hot tub again.
0:34 Sierra’s disappearance is discovered by her posse of handlers. Nothing comes of this for another forty minutes or so.
0:35 Jake, a horrible businessman, has not hired a housekeeper for his resort. His solution is to use Sierra, who – it is hoped – may regain some of her memories by doing “normal things.” We’ve apparently forgotten the premise again, because Sierra gamely attempts all the chores.
The gag here is that Sarah/Sierra has never done these chores before, but it feels an awful lot like the writers haven’t, either, since they come up with gags like this one, in which Sierra gets a toilet brush stuck in the toilet and somehow makes a bunch of water come out.
0:40 After a Tad break and a nice bonding scene with Avy, Sierra finds that putting too much detergent in the washing machine has caused it to bubble over disastrously. Humble middle-class resort owner Jake is upset, and Sierra runs from him to go unburden herself in conversation with a horse.
By the way, Jake overhears this because he is just out of sight inside of the stable. Not sure how he got out there before Sierra, logistically speaking.
0:43 While visiting a Christmas Village, Jake reveals that his deceased wife’s father gave him The North Star as a wedding gift. Like so many everyday Americans who have been given ski resorts, Jake is struggling; these days, shallow idiots prefer phony mega-resorts to regular mid-sized mom-and-pop ski resorts. “I still think there's something special about the simple things,” Jake says, wistfully, of the ski resort that he got for free.
0:48 A montage shows what is supposed to be Sierra’s personal growth, including her happily making the bed. Unfortunately, since the writers kept ignoring their own premise, we know that Sierra has been trying to make her bed and cook her own food since day one, so this mostly amounts to a montage of her being better at chores.
0:49 A gingerbread-house food fight in a carpeted room. Jake, you still haven’t hired a housekeeper!
0:50 Jake takes a head-trauma patient skiing.
0:53 Jake busts out the line “I’ve gotta go ‘cause I’m gonna be late for the toy drive.” For our single readers, I’d recommend using this line at the end of a date.
0:55 Sierra remarks that “everyone was so nice” at the toy drive, which tracks.
0:57 Sierra comes up with an idea to save The North Star from Jake’s chronic mismanagement: A fundraiser that will bring back all of the resort’s former guests at once (I have some issues with the logistics of this plan).
Jake struggles to accept this idea. Sierra urges him to “think about all of the memories” he’s made at the resort, at which point Jake lashes out with a real doozy:
Come on, Jake.
0:59 Jake’s mother-in-law posts up cool-teacher style on his desk and urges him to get over her dead daughter.
1:00 “I think it’s best for everyone if I just go,” a heartbroken Sierra says, presumably mentally preparing herself to meet her inevitable death by exposure in the snowblown Rocky Mountains, since we’ve already established that she has nowhere to go. Jake interrupts with an apology, saving her life.
It’s been a while, but it’s time again:
1:03 Drone shot of the hot tub.
1:04 It has been a good forty minutes since we have last seen Sierra’s father (Beauregard Belmont, the hotel magnate), but he appears again now and finally learns that his daughter is missing. Mr. Belmont deploys the innovative strategy of Calling The Cops, who immediately bring in Tad and figure out where Sierra is.
1:07 As Tad and Dad race toward Sierra, the whole town comes together to save the ski resort that Jake got for free and ran into the ground.
The mayor even announces that The North Star may be landmarked as a historic site, which is actually more of a mixed bag for certain types of businesses, and something that Jake should probably talk to a lawyer about.
1:13 The dynamic duo of Tad and Dad arrive and whisk Sierra away. She goes with them pretty abruptly. “I have to go home,” Sierra says to Avy, who will likely never recover from this trauma.
1:16 Drone shot of the hot tub again.
1:18 Waking up at her soulless mega-resort, Sierra alarms her handlers by cooking her own breakfast. As with the earlier montage, this is somewhat undermined by the fact that she was happily trying to do the same thing on day one of her big personal journey. Once again we must ponder whether Sierra’s arc is about becoming more down-to-Earth or about becoming more skilled at doing chores.
1:19 Bailed out on Christmas Eve, businessman Jake somehow finds himself in dire straits again on Christmas morning. The whole town’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”-style GoFundMe was for naught, according to Jake, because it’s “[not] gonna make a difference if we don’t get any reservations.” Where did the money go, Jake? Let’s have a look at those books.
1:24 After Sierra mentions The North Star in a press conference, its phones start ringing off the hook. It is once again swiftly saved from Jake’s mismanagement. But for how long?
1:25 Sierra dumps Tad.
1:27 Jake, having rushed to the mega-resort to tell Sierra how he truly feels, reunites with Sierra. Avy and Beauregard show up a moment later, and Sierra mentions the possibility of pouring Belmont money into The North Star, which would presumably protect it even from Jake’s breathtaking incompetence. Meanwhile, Tad rides a limo into the sunset with one of Sierra’s handlers.
It’s a classic Christmas movie ending, real Hallmark Channel stuff. But it still feels like something is missing, doesn't it?
1:29 Drone shot of the hot tub again.