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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Review: “Let It Snow,” popular book and Netflix movie falls flat

Book or movie? A question as old as time

I am a total sucker when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. So when I heard that “Let It Snow” was out, I watched it immediately and decided to read the book later. 

“Let it Snow” was adapted from the 2008 book of the same name by John Green, Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson. 

“Let it Snow” follows a group of teenagers each trying to solve their holiday problems. With actors such as Kiernan Shipka from “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “Mad Men,” Jacob Batalon from the “Spiderman” series and Odeya Rush from “Ladybird,” the cast was a hit. But the movie appears to have spent more money on actors than writing. The cast was there; it had the potential to be the beautiful Christmas rom-com that I wanted it to be, but there were simply too many loose strings that didn’t tie together in the end, and the characters fell flat. 

My main problem with movie adaptations of popular books is their inability to show any sort of personality in characters. They are bland and sanded down to the most evident flaws that become their single personality trait. 

Rush’s character Addie is the jealous girlfriend who is afraid that her boyfriend will cheat on her, all while dealing with her absent family. We never know her well enough to actually relate or feel sympathy for her character. The only thing I was able to muster for her character’s plight was a small, “oh man, that sucks.” But we move on. There’s not enough to Addie for viewers to sympathize with her. 

There is also Shameik Moore’s character Stuart Bale who is alone on Christmas Eve. But, again, we never find out much of why he spends his holiday nights alone in a hotel room. This is sad, but not sad enough to relate to the character. 

Not only do I love book-to-movie adaptations, but I love when movies string together the different stories that are playing out throughout the movie. Similar to “Love Actually” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” the movie “Let It Snow” focuses on four different love stories. 

The four different love stories consist of Julie (Isabela Moner) who meets a lonely celebrity who changes her day. Addie (Odeya Rush) is paralyzed with the idea that her boyfriend is cheating on her. Tobin (Mitchell Hope) is secretly in love with his best friend. 

But the main divergence from the book is the relationship between Dorie (Liv Hewson) and Kerrie (Anna Akana). Dorie is completely head over heels for Kerrie after a late night talking and sharing their lives with each other. But when Dorie and Kerrie see each other again, Kerrie acts as if she never met Dorie. 

The movie added Kerrie and Dorie’s love story, and it was a beautiful addition, but it was so rushed that I couldn’t see what was happening. Dorie mentions throughout the story that they had an unforgettable night, but we never see it happen. I would have been happy with small flashbacks of that night — a short snippet, a cookie crumble, something! But as always, the same-sex romance is left on the back burner, just there to appease the audience. 

It also would have been nice to know how Stuart Baule (Shameik Moore), the famous popstar who gets stuck in the snowy small town, rose to fame or why he has no family. But to my disappointment, none of the storylines worked as a movie. The movie ran for 92 minutes, so it should have been a TV show.

I read the book a month after I saw the movie and the book was even more of a disappointment. Each of the book’s three authors wrote a short story for the book, but each short story had its faults. Johnson wrote “The Jubilee Express,” which follows Jubilee as she is stranded in the middle of a snowstorm on her way to visit her grandparents. Jubilee meets Stuart, who gives her company on the snowy day. 

This short story made me feel like I was ten, staying up on Wattpad on a school night just to read — and not in a good way. A lot of young adult novels are flawed in their juvenile writing, but that is rarely a problem for me. Still, Johnson failed to meet my expectations, and her writing was subpar. Not only did her writing make me feel genuinely embarrassed to carry the book around with me, but her characters were unamusing.

Jubilee is the stereotypically smart but pretty girl in high school who hates cheerleaders because they’re dim. This overused personality makes me cringe. What’s worse about this short story is that it’s written by a woman. She created her protagonist as a devastating cliche.

John Green’s short story “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” was also lacking. Taking Johnson’s lead of using overwritten character types, Green brings in the Duke, who is the kind of girl who thinks a guy saying “you’re not like other girls” is a compliment. My problem with this character type is that it leads young girls to believe that they must hate pink and everything feminine in order to be intelligent. 

The lack of personality in the only female protagonist wasn’t the worst of Green’s story. “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” was boring, to put it simply. The story follows Tobin, whose parents are stuck outside of town because of the snowstorm, the Duke and JP. The group of friends are watching movies when Tobin gets a call that a group of cheerleaders are at the Waffle House and he needs to go over to play Twister. The trio drive through the snowstorm for the boys to play Twister with the cheerleaders and for the Duke to get hashbrowns. I wanted nothing more than to finish this short story. It dragged on, and I found myself counting how many pages I had left to finish.

Lauren Myracle wrote “The Patron Saint of Pigs” as the third story. Out of the three, this would be my favorite. This story follows Addie, who is devastated after a recent breakup with her boyfriend. In order to feel better about herself, she promises her friend Tegan that she will pick her up a pig. But Addie forgets to pick up the pig and someone else does, leading her to realize that she may be just as selfish as her friends tell her. But of course, like any cliched Christmas tale, Addie learns the valuable lesson of putting others before herself. This story is my favorite solely because Addie’s character flaws are so evident that it’s a refreshing change from the previous two stories. I also love how all the characters intertwine with each other. 

Choosing between the book and the movie, I would choose the movie. The stories are drastically different, but I didn’t enjoy reading the book. For those who like cheesy, mindless movies, this film just might be for you. Maybe. 

Written by: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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