This cosy if overblown new Christmas musical is filled with decent songs – but lack of character and effective plot development let it down.

For anyone looking for a genuinely corny but well intentioned film that throws a whole range of ideas into the plot then you could do worse than to take a look at this latest Netflix release.

Featuring songs by Dolly Parton, Christmas on the Square sees Regina Fuller who has inherited Fullerville following the death of her father, wanting to evict its residents and sell the town – much to the horror (of course) to the residents. The whole plot unfolds exactly like A Christmas Carol, as Regina is forced to confront her past and change her ways – with the help of an angel played by Dolly Parton.

There is no denying that through her film, Debbie Allen has certainly thrown everything at it to make it feel like a spectacular event – but because of this it becomes extremely unsubtle and makes it difficult to connect to emotionally – despite some lovely songs.

The film gets off to a lovely start musically – with suitably theatrical song ‘Christmas is’ that has a real feel good quality, helping to set up the Christmas vibe nicely along with some energetic and playful choreography. It really sets the tone nicely. Other stand out songs include the heartfelt and romantic ‘You’, the sassy and to the point ‘Queen of Mean’, ‘Everybody Needs an Angel’ and ‘Fairytale’ – all showcase Dolly Parton’s songwriting skills beautifully. However, the film is so weighed down by the number of songs that it leaves little room for character or plot development.

In particular, the revealing of why Regina is the way she is, a nasty accident and a surprising adoption mystery all feel rushed in towards the end. Had these elements been added in slightly earlier or more effectively in the script then it would have been easier to feel more emotionally connected to the characters.

This being said, Christmas on the Square still manages to feel as though it has good intentions at heart – in the way in which it explores the power of compassion, faith, community and family during the Christmas period. It has a gentle charm about it that some might find too sugary sweet in places, with the sequence in which Regina talks to Violet feeling like one of the more sincere moments in the film and a real turning point. Hope and positivity for change lie at the centre of the film.

Overall, Christmas on the Square could have used some further work in terms of characters and plot – but its positivity and faith that everything will turn out alright in the end is perhaps something that we need at the moment.

By Emma Clarendon

Christmas on the Square is available to watch on Netflix now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐