The holiday movie genre is a tried and true path to success, particularly this time of year. Networks dust off beloved classics, others debut new, charming, and heartwarming tales, all with the goal of spreading a bit of holiday cheer as the days grow shorter, the nights longer, and the air takes on a bit of chill. Netflix is getting in on that this season with a distinctively young adult twist with Let It Snow. The film is an adaptation of the popular novel of the same name written collaboratively by authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle that hopes to capture some of the magic and wonder of the books three intertwining stories and, to an extent, it does.
Let It Snow follows a group of teens in a small town whose lives are all impacted by and changed by a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. Right off the bat, the film introduces us to the major players in the story: Angela/The Duke (Kiernan Shipka,) Tobin (Mitchell Hope), Stuart (Shameik Moore), Keon (Jacob Batalon), Jubilee (Isabela Moner), Addie (Odeya Rush), and Dorrie (Liv Hewson). While the movie does create generally three main "stories" as the book does, the film weaves the narratives together a bit more tightly and a bit more quickly. While that generally isn't a problem, as it makes the story a little easier to follow, it also creates a strange translation from page to screen.
Netflix's Let It Snow isn't a completely faithful adaptation, to be sure. Jubilee's story, in particular, has some major changes from the book. There’s also the issue of the way the overall story itself works. One of the most noticeable elements carrying through all of the stories told in the film is that the "lessons" the characters and the audience are supposed to learn from the magic of this snow day are a little heavy-handed and a little too convenient. Some conversations simply don't feel natural as a result, but fortunately, the film's cast is charming enough that those moments are watchable, and you still end up rooting for the budding romances that develop as the stories play out.
While all of the performances in Let it Snow are charming, however, there are two that stand out. Hewson's performance as Dorrie is fantastic, but it's Moner that may give the best performance of the film, as the Dora the Explorer star shines as Jubilee Dougal. Her performance as a somewhat cynical young woman simply trying to give her ill mother a perfect Christmas, even as she shuts down her own dreams, is rich and complex, full of the delicate nuances of emotion that the character's situation calls for while still somehow delivered with the optimism of youth.
That optimism of youth is, ultimately, what makes Let It Snow a worthy addition to the holiday movie genre. Lighthearted and bright, Let It Snow is the kind of movie that you can turn on and enjoy while baking cookies, trimming the tree, or just having a nice night in. While definitely geared towards teens and young adults, the movie has a little something for everyone and may just help you believe in the magic of the season — and a well-timed snow day.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Let it Snow debuts on Netflix November 8th.