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Most of the falling will be done by watching Netflix’s “Falling for Christmas,” Lindsay Lohan’s eagerly awaited comeback film. The lighthearted film by director Janeen Damian, about a privileged hotel heiress who encounters a situation that deepens her character, isn’t always served out as the typical cup of festive cheer and rom-com charm.

Much more is involved than that. The predictable and happy parts are mixed up by its irreverent attitude, intelligence geared toward women, and sweet sentimentality, which makes everything merry and bright.

Christmas rom-com

Sierra Belmont (Lohan), a rich and spoiled heiress, plans to spend the holidays with her narcissistic, Instagram-obsessed boyfriend Tad Fairchild at her father’s (Jack Wagner) luxury ski resort (George Young).

She expects her dad to offer her a job as the resort’s “Vice President of Atmosphere” so she won’t have to spend her days lazing around in champagne, caviar, and designer clothes. However, she is hesitant about the position because she knows deep down that it is not what she wants to do. She thinks about being an influencer like Tad, who coerces her into becoming one of his accessories and gets her to accept a marriage proposal on a mountainside.

Christmas rom-com

Tad is knocked out on one side of the mountain, and Sierra suffers from a concussion, but fate steps in and causes a disastrous fall. Fortunately, she is saved by widowed single dad Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet), who is passing by.

Sierra is stuck because she has acute amnesia and no identification. Jake offers to house this lost soul in his modest family inn with his mother-in-law Alejandra (Alejandra Flores) and precocious daughter Avy (Olivia Perez), being the kindhearted man he is, until someone comes to claim Sierra.

His competitors, as well as the urgent need for repairs, are causing his business to struggle. Since he is still mourning the death of his wife, his personal life also needs to be fixed. Sierra is determined to be a blessing rather than a blight and ends up changing the area in more ways than one while her hotel tycoon father and Tad look for her.

Damian and “Overboard” screenwriters Jeff Bonnett and Ron Oliver (working from a script by Bonnett) have found a way to make the genre standard, whose premise is shamelessly gaslighting a person with a severe brain injury, work in a way that doesn’t cause any problems. Even its recreation from 2018 struggled to untangle that. There are never any sneaky antics because the individuals don’t remember each other from their fateful meet-cute.

Although he offers some comedic relief and Young gives his shallow character some delicious depth, the script struggles to include him effectively, leaving the viewer unsure whether to love or hate him.

Christmas rom-com

Even though the script’s first act gives away too much with its explanations, the rest of the shows are full of subtleties that magically come to life. Sierra makes moving twists on her path from selfishness to altruism. She demonstrates some humanity and self-awareness right away, however imperfectly, so we can already see that her subsequent arc will be delicate yet significant. Her character has clearly defined internal and external motivations. Thus she doesn’t require much prodding from the male protagonist to change.

Christmas rom-com

Jake goes through a change because he has to let go of his sadness and his pride. They bond over the deceased matriarchs of their respective families in an emotional and heartfelt exchange, with an angel tree topper serving as a metaphor for grief—once tucked away in a dark drawer, but eventually pulled into the open.

In Lohan’s hands, her character gains a soulful sense of comedy, tenderness, and vitality that could otherwise have been one-note. When forced to play someone who is utterly intolerable, she is funny, showing her comedic muscles by pratfalling over a Barcalounger or down a smooth flight of stairs. But when the mood is melancholy, she also has a gentle side. She and Perez have great chemistry in passages that reveal the content’s resonant warmth and deep feelings. Overstreet delivers subdued, quiet work, deftly dipping into the humorous and heartfelt elements.

Christmas rom-com

Clever references to Lohan’s other work are used here and there. For example, in “Mean Girls,” she sings “Jingle Bell Rock,” and in “Just My Luck,” when she tries to do laundry, the washing machine gives her hilarious trouble. This is the first of two Lohan projects that Netflix has approved, and it feels like the perfect holiday gift to watch her use her talent and wit to craft a character whose journey to a second chance at life delivers the goods. It’s a promising first step for a potential “Lohanaissance.”

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