Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide: EXmas is more than just its cast

Would you spend Christmas with your ex’s family? Graham, Robbie Amell’s character in EXmas, cannot think of anything worse.

When he comes home to find that his ex-fiancé is trying to steal his family during the jolliest time of the year, he decides to take action. His war plan goes as follows: Sabotage the baked goods, escalate a competitive family game night and add a special ingredient to the cookies. But throughout this battle of the exes, the two start to realize that maybe instead of fighting against each other, they should be fighting for each other.

If you’re like me, your entire TikTok feed for the past month has been about this movie. The excitement around this release was mostly attributed to the fact that Robbie Amell and Leighton Meester (sporting very un-Blair Waldorf-like microbangs) were cast opposite each other in a romance. Now that the movie’s actually out, the amount of posts about it has greatly dwindled — either none of the fans actually ended up watching the movie, or they did and didn’t like it.

This imbalance between excitement for the trailer and indifference in the movie would make sense if the preview didn’t tell you exactly what to expect: Cheesy humour, banter and subterfuge. It’s one of those trailers that make you feel like you’ve just watched the entire movie.

Celebrity Christmas movies have been all the hype recently. Popular streaming sites take mediocre scripts and plop celebrities into the movie to try and improve it. We will never know how many people would have watched movies like The Princess Switch had they been cast differently. Yet EXMas has seen not even a quarter of the success of The Princess Switch, despite doubling the number of celebrity names. It got 48 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, which we, as university students, know is not a passing grade.

Regardless of the bad reviews, EXmas puts the com in rom-com through its exploration of family dynamics during one of the craziest times of the year. Coming from a “putting the tree up on November 1” family myself, nothing is funnier than seeing caricatures of your own slightly unhinged family members on screen.

Despite catering to the modern young adult, this movie has a certain nostalgia. It feels like stepping through the door into a bustling household with Christmas decorations up and cookies burning in the oven — it’s the Christmas with the Kranks of our generation.

Romance lovers will enjoy watching Graham and Ali stumble through the tropes of lovers to enemies to lovers, and second-chance romance. Though there was clear chemistry between these two rivals, I did not want them to end up together.

Graham spent his entire holiday obsessing over his ex, trying so desperately to make her look bad to the point of spoiling his own family’s Christmas. Graham and Ali bring out the worst in each other, making it difficult to root for either of them. With his stained sweatpants and personal collection of red flags, this movie may have done the impossible — making Robbie Amell unattractive. These two beloved celebrities were playing unlikable characters that, for reasons unknown, liked each other.

The swing-and-miss at romantic believability didn't make the whole movie a write-off. At the end of the day, this movie is simply about two people who are trying and failing not to love each other during the most magical time of the year. Though I doubt it’ll be labelled a Christmas classic, I can see it quickly climbing the ranks of your favourite comfort movies.

So put away those tomatoes, ignore the reviews and enjoy EXmas this Christmas.