Ten movies later, and “A Cinderella Story” continues to push forward as a franchise that is mainly just a vehicle for young up and coming female Disney stars. After Hilary Duff came and went, portraying a contemporary take on the fairytale, the series stomped on and now introduces a Christmas themed romance. It’s tough to review “Christmas Wish” as it’s mainly aimed toward teens that love this kind of sickly sweet Christmas muck. It’s basically like a greeting card with a pre-written message on it. It’s predictable, formula, and kind of hard to criticize.
Kat Emerson (Laura Marano) is an aspiring singer-songwriter/pop star with big dreams, who is treated like a servant by her vain stepmother and self-involved stepsisters. Forced into a demoralizing job as a singing elf at billionaire Terrence Wintergarden’s Santa Land, there is one bright spot to the job: Dominic Wintergarden (Gregg Sulkin), the handsome new Santa at the tree lot. When Kat gets invited to the prestigious Wintergarden Christmas Gala, her step-family is determined to prevent her from attending and snag invitations to lure Dominic in to marrying one of her wicked stepsisters.
“Christmas Wish” is a very saccharine and formula sequel that just serves a purpose of giving a vehicle to its main stars Marano and Sulkin. Disney stars gotta eat too, I guess. Marano is very charming and talented, for what it’s worth. She’s just drowned out by a lot of the more inexplicable elements of the narrative. Lest we forget the dated moral of the story about the best way to escape an abusive family life is by–marrying in to wealth. There isn’t a ton of rethinking the wheel or giving a new radical twist. It’s mainly about how Kat sees escaping her bad home life by falling for Dominic, and he has just about everything she wants. She, as a woman, can’t find it herself apparently.
But she does find a nice dress, which is what seals the deal in the climax. Beyond that, there’s so much under developed or half baked points, including the back story of Kat’s father, the reason why her step mother is able to withhold her inheritance, and the subtle implication Kat is or was related to Santa Claus at some point. There’s also the fact that the writers can never seem to decide if “Christmas Wish” is a musical or not. It opens with a musical number, goes long stretches without any music, and then suddenly the characters burst in to song. For a movie that’s geared toward tweens, Kat and Dominic have a very chaste chemistry that’s revolved around expressing their feelings through long glances, singing, and light dancing fit for a conservative PG rating.
“Christmas Wish” is far from the best re-imagining of “Cinderella” out there, but it should serve its purpose as a distraction for the kids on a chore filled Sunday afternoon for the parents.
Along with the DVD Copy and Digital Copy for Consumers, the Blu-Ray includes the five minutes The Looks and Costumes of Christmas Wish, a discussion with Costume designer Valerie Halverson and key cast members, all of whom briefly talk about Christmas Wish’s production design and all of the colorful outfits. Finally, there’s The Mic and the Stage, the eleven minute segment is a brief once over of the bland pop music with discussions with star Laura Marano who is really good at feigning enthusiasm for music most viewers will forget about two minutes after the closing credits end.