This year, it’s going to be impossible to predict if Netflix is on Santa’s naughty or nice list. Although a new Netflix original movie is often on the horizon, it feels as if most fall short. From the The Gray Man to Purple Hearts,  Netflix’s live-action track record is below average among both fans and critics.

Best. Christmas. Ever! follows the story of two supposed friends who accidentally reunite on Christmas. Jackie Jennings, played by Brandy Norwood, sends annual newsletters around the holidays to recap her family’s unmatched achievements throughout the year. Heather Graham’s Charlotte Sanders, however, hates these letters because her family seemingly can’t compare. 

After a mishap leads Charlotte and her family to Jackie’s steps on Christmas Eve, we’re welcomed into the mess that is Charlotte’s life. The story shows Charlotte’s rocky marriage in comparison to Jackie and her family’s idyllic life. Instead of enjoying her time with an old friend, Charlotte plots the entire time to expose Jackie’s “false life.”

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From the opening scenes, the film’s cluster of unrelated tropes was evident. Charlotte breaks the fourth wall to discuss her disdain for Jackie with the viewer.  This odd addition is a standalone moment in the movie.

Holiday cliches continue — ranging from random musical scenes to a massive hot air balloon carrying Santa’s sleigh. While the mindlessness of the film might be fit for parents wanting to distract their children, a few sexual innuendos might make the film a little too inappropriate for some younger audiences. 

As the film progresses, it seems like a completely new storyline emerges. All at once, Jackie’s husband and Charlotte are flirting while the children are trying to find out if Santa is real. 

The film also squeezes a town musical, a missing child, Charlotte’s company plummeting, and a massive snow storm into its less than 90 minute runtime.

Cheesy Christmas movies are the best kind. The Grinch, Elf and any Hallmark movie are packed with live-action comedy and heart, but their secret is an easy to follow plot. In the case of Best. Christmas Ever!, a packed script kills any possibility of emulating the energy of other great Christmas films.

While the writers killed the movie’s potential, the actors salvaged what they could. Each scene, despite featuring implausible writing, boasted some quality performances. I really did hate Charlotte and felt bad for her whole family. Each actor’s emotional performances made the film feel ever-so-slightly more realistic and relatable.

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The entire film follows a strict, predictable path. With each scene, the writers’ attempt at relatability comes through in cringey moments and forced plot points. When it feels like it can’t get any worse, it somehow does. Even in the last “twist” of the film, the script falls flat at eliciting suspense from its audience.

If you’re a Christmas movie enthusiast and are looking to watch this one, I recommend you put it on as background noise for cooking or getting ready for a holiday party. But beware, if you actually take the time to sit down and watch it, Best.Christmas.Ever! falls short of its titular promise.

Next year, I will be swiftly returning to other classics. This one will definitely not reach my re-watch list.