Most everybody had that moment when they just gave up on Lindsay Lohan.
The scandals, the tsunami of gossip, the poor choices off screen and on, few actresses handled the transition from child starlet to adult attention magnet more poorly. Yes, it’s an awful test for even the strongest psyches, and her parental guidance leaned notoriously towards the Britney Spears side of the spectrum. But at some point, you’re well over 21 and what goes wrong is on you and you alone.
I gave the “Mean Girls” queen the benefit of the doubt right up to what should have been a golden opportunity that she turned into a rhymes-with-fitshow. “The Canyons” had one of the great writer-directors, Paul Schrader, a script by “Less Than Zero” author Bret Easton Ellis and a topic — the vapid, vain dysfunction of lives lived on the fringes of LA’s beautiful, rich and entitled.
Lohan diva’d her way into deserved oblivion in 2013 by misbehaving on that set and ruining what could have been something of a restart for her and a filmmaker who would later come back with a vengeance with “First Reformed.”
But as most of what she did she did to herself, it’d be churlish to not think she deserves another shot. So, a Netflix “Hallmark-style” Christmas rom-com? “Falling for Christmas?” Lindsay, now a high-mileage 36, looking winsome, taking pratfalls, wholly-engaged in the work and even doing a little “Jingle Bell Rock” sing-along?
Good for her. And good for Netflix, which is also giving a Hallmarkish rom-com home to the less problematic ex child starlet Victoria Justice, among others.
The movie? Oh, it’s insipid. You half expect to see Dolly Parton — Long
May She Rein — show up as a singing Christmas angel. Yeah, it’s like that.
Lohan plays a hotel heiress and influencer who is trying to fend off her father’s (Jack Wagner) efforts to make her grow up and take on work in the family business. Sierra is meeting her super-influencer and boyfriend of a year, the vapid Euro-trash Tad (George Young) at one of Dad’s upscale mountainside ski resorts. Tad is planning on proposing — and posting online about it — on a mountain top.
Things go wrong, and next thing we know, Tad is stranded in an ice shanty on a frozen lake with poacher Ralph (Sean Dillingham), Sierra’s crashed into a snowbank and developed amnesia and nobody knows they’re missing.
“I’m like…unclaimed luggage,” our puzzled heroine declares.
The freckled redhead who doesn’t know her name is now “Sarah,” and staying with her rescuer Jake (Chord Overstreet), a widower who runs the failing B & B down the hill, who doesn’t know who she is and who has a winsome mother-in-law (Alejandra Flores) and little girl (Olivia Perez) who falls for this woman who can’t remember her name and lacks even the most basic domestic skills, but who takes interest in her and shares some of the secrets of being a girl with her.
So what we’ve got is “Overboard” without the devious edge of a guy taking advantage of a rich amnesiac, grafted onto “It’s a Wonderful Life” (without an angel, Dolly Parton or otherwise) or “White Christmas,” where our hapless innkeeper has to learn how beloved and valued he is by those who love him.
There’s just nothing to this. A typical scene is a brief, helpful gift-wrapping lesson Jake gives Sarah/Sierra. There’s nothing cute, funny or charming in this 30-45 seconds of screen time. And yet it’s what passes for “home for the holidays” warmth, wit and wisdom.
Spoiler alert — it’s not funny. Second spoiler alert — the only laugh in “Falling” is “Sierra” waking up by turning the TV on to Netflix, which is wall-to-wall holiday movies like…”Falling for Christmas.”
But Lohan does what she can with this thin, treacly material, shows she can be a team player and bring value without (one hopes) drama to a set and a project that may not be an A-picture, but still gets her name out there in a non gossipy way. Good for her.
Call it a win, and maybe a proof of concept of the “I can still show up on time, act, and bring a little sentiment and sparkle to a part” variety. And call it a day.
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, George Young, Olivia Perez, Alejandra Flores, Sean Dillingham and Jack Wagner
Credits: Directed by Janeen Damian, scripted by Jeff Bonnett, Janeen Damian, Michael Damian, Ron Oliver. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:35