Seventeen-year-old Katherine “Kat” Decker (Laura Marano) has always dreamed of becoming a famous singer/songwriter. While she certainly has the talent, she lacks the self-confidence to make her dreams a reality—probably due to the constant negative reinforcement she receives from her wicked stepfamily. Kat’s mother died when she was eight. Her father eventually remarried, but he also passed away two years ago, and now Kat lives with stepmother Deirdre (Johannah Newmarch)—who sits around all day, living off Kat’s future inheritance—and her two bratty stepsisters. Joy (Johannah Newmarch) is a wannabe socialite with her own vlog, and dimwitted Grace (Chanelle Peloso) just wants to get attention from her older sister and mother. The family makes Kat do all of their cleaning and even take her paycheck to pay for things around the house.
Kat works as a singing elf alongside her best friend Isla (Isabella Gomez) at Santa Land park, which belongs to local billionaire Terrence Wintergarden (Barclay Hope). Kat and Isla discover there’s a new Santa this year, the handsome Nick—and he and Kat sense sparks almost immediately. However, since the park manager has a policy that all employees must remain in costume at all times, she is unaware that Nick is actually Dominic Wintergarden (Gregg Sulkin), the son of the owner. Earlier in the week, Kat had an unfortunate slip, spilling Frappuccinos all over herself and Dominic, and Joy captured the whole incident on her blog, turning Kat into a viral sensation, “Starbucks Girl”. Nick is unaware that Kat is “Starbucks Girl”, because she is always wearing elf ears and a wig at work.
The Wintergardens hold a huge annual Christmas Gala every year, and Diedre is already scheming ways to get herself and her daughters invited. She has eyes on becoming the next Mrs. Wintergarden, or at the very least that Joy will end up with Dominic, and she will stop at nothing to make this happen, including preventing Kat from going and messing up her plans.
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish is the fifth film in the popular Cinderella Story franchise—each of these movies is its own standalone tale, though all of them are loosely based on elements from classic fairytale. This time the story is a fun, music-filled holiday tale that will have viewers smiling and tapping their toes from start to finish. Laura Marano is a pure delight as the ever-positive Kat, who is amazingly well-adjusted and happy despite all that she has gone through, and the continuous torture her stepfamily puts her through. Kat is counting the days until her 18th birthday when she can collect her inheritance and move out. Helping to keep her sane are her wheelbarrow-bound dog Bruno, and supportive best friend Isla, who, like Kat, has bigger dreams—Isla is a talented costume designer and seamstress. Gregg Sulkin is so charming as Nick. He feels like a genuinely nice guy who just happens to hang out with some vapid rich friends, but the chemistry between Dominic and Kat feels very real. The stepfamily is so well cast—they not feel over-the-top evil and a bit campy at times, and provide a lot of comic relief, especially the dimwitted Grace.
The film is filled with some wonderful original music that is quite catchy. Whether it’s Kat having a daydream of her super-stardom, Kat and Isla performing as elves for a group of 4-6 year-olds waiting to see Santa, a fantastical duet between Kat and Dominic, or a bit gala performance, the music sounds great, and is always combined with some well-choreographed dance routine. If I had one complaint, it’s that the songs are a little bit over-produced at times. Rather than feeling like the characters are singing the songs in the moment, sometimes it feels more like fully-produced tracks that are overlayed on top of the scenes—there’s little-to-no background noise blended in with the music to make it feel more natural. But that is a minor gripe as the film was quite entertaining throughout, with some delightful characters and fun relationships. It makes we want to go back and check out more of the franchise.
Warner Bros’ Blu-ray release provides a clean, detailed picture that looks great, both in the bright, colorful outside Santa Land scenes, as well as in the darker, more-muted tones of the Gala. The songs sound great, and dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include the same selection of bonus material—about 17 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes/interviews with the cast and filmmakers. The discs come packed in a standard HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover, and an insert containing the digital copy redemption instructions.
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Digital Copy
Movies Anywhere compatible HD digital copy of the film.
Digital (Redemption Deadline 12/31/2020):
All of the Bonus features are included on both the Blu-ray and the DVD.
- The Looks and Costumes of Christmas Wish (5:33)
The cast and filmmakers talk about film’s costumes. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with costume designer Valerie Halverson and stars Gregg Sulkin (“Dominic Wintergarden”), Laura Marano (“Kat Decker”), Lillian Doucet-Roche (“Joy Decker”) & Chanelle Peloso (“Grace Decker”).
- The Mic and The Stage (11:04)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the film’s musical and dance sequences, and learning to sing and do the choreography. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director/writer Michelle Johnson, choreographer Scott Hislop, and stars Gregg Sulkin, Laura Marano & Isabella Gomez (“Isla”).
- Trailers (5:05)
Trailers for The Sun Is Also a Star and Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish is a fun holiday musical that the whole family can enjoy. It takes some ideas from the familiar Cinderella fairytale and gives them a modern, musical twist. The actors are great and have excellent chemistry, and the music and dancing is delightful. This is an easy recommendation for fans of fairtytales, rom-coms, musicals, or romantic holiday films (or all of the above). While it felt a little early to be watching this even before Halloween, I was instantly sucked into the holiday spirit, and I can definitely see myself watching this one again before the end of the year.