Loosely based on an anthology of interconnected holiday novellas — penned by popular young adult novelists John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle — the romcom “Let It Snow” follows a handful of middle American small-town teenagers during one eventful Christmas Eve. The film loses much of the book’s nuance though, rendering it indistinguishable from any other twinkly, sugary TV Christmas special.
Director Luke Snellin and screenwriters Kay Cannon, Victoria Strouse and Laura Solon interweave the book’s multiple storylines, but drastically alter key plot details. Even the local Waffle House where much of the action takes place has been renamed “Waffle Town” — a minor change, but one that speaks to the difference between a torn-from-real-life YA story and more routine Hollywood fakery.
The most memorable storyline sees Liv Hewson playing Dorrie, a self-assured waitress who gets flustered when the cheerleader she has a crush on walks into Waffle Town. Isabela Merced (“Dora the Explorer” and formerly Isabela Moner) and Shameik Moore are also fairly charming in their subplot — she playing a bright kid who’s not sure she can leave her sickly mom to go to college, and he playing a pop star passing through town incognito.
But Odeya Rush is stranded in a broad, tedious tale of a jilted girlfriend on a rampage. And poor Kiernan Shipka and Mitchell Hope are given almost nothing to play in a generic story about two longtime friends, mutually nervous about level-jumping their relationship. The two characters have one defining shared trait — a love of ‘80s alternative rock — that seems like a way for the screenwriters to avoid engaging with the concerns and passions of modern teens.
With its cast of veteran child actors and its baked-in holiday warmth, “Let It Snow” has some baseline appeal. But like the formulaic Christmas movies that fill the Hallmark Channel this time of year, this film isn’t exactly a timeless classic. It’s more like something to put on in the background, while making cookies or wrapping presents.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Available on Netflix