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A Castle for Christmas

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Carrie and Shana decided to start December off right with a midweek movie night.

Also in attendance were Carrie’s daughter, a dog, and a cat.

As consummate professionals, we prepared by reading this article about the realism, and lack thereof, of the movie.

It’s been a long time since we’ve done a recap, and we are prepared.

Shana was in charge of snacks.

Bitches, let me tell you.

If you ever have the chance to do so, PUT SHANA IN CHARGE OF SNACKS.


A Castle for Christmas stars Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes and we struggled to remember, or care, that they were playing characters named Sophie and Myles, and not their very attractive selves.

The movie opens with Sophie, a romance author, in the middle of a massive PR crisis. She killed off the hero of her series, and now her fans want blood. They’re rioting in the streets, and her agent wants Sophie to resurrect the character. So she promptly runs away to a village in Scotland because according to Sophie, the country is “hidden away, and it’s quiet, and nobody knows me there.”

Carrie: Things I will take to the streets about:
-Human rights (including BLM, LGBTQIA, etc etc etc)
-Climate Change
-My favorite character being killed off in a work of fiction. (SARCASM ALERT)

Shana: Sophie’s fans are intense! I didn’t know this level of fandom was an option. Warning to writers: if you kill off my beloved character, I know now that I should make a giant sign and stand outside a random building in NYC, screaming nonsensically until you flee the country.

Carrie: I don’t think you can call anything that is clearly visible on any map of the world “hidden away.”

Carrie: We are five minutes and ten seconds in and delighted. Sophie appears on The Drew Barrymore Show. It makes me really happy to see Brooke Shields and Drew Barrymore, survivors of chaotic Hollywood careers from infancy onwards, backing each other up, plus this segment is very funny. Sisterhood, Bitches! Also you know that when her agent tells her to “try not to look so tall” that is a lived moment. Ouch.

The story now takes us to Sophie’s office/loft/living space, where she finds out from her adult daughter that her ex-husband, from whom she was just recently divorced, is getting married on Christmas Day. I feel you, Sophie.

Shana: I’m confused by Sophie’s office. It’s so spacious and fancy. Is she an author, or an investment banker?

Carrie: Shana, if we weren’t critics, and instead we wrote fiction, we too would live in a giant apartment in New York City and I would be wearing a silky ensemble instead of sloth Christmas pajamas. Everyone knows that this is true.

However, if we were novelists, in that big penthouse apartment, we would be so focused on our careers that our personal life would be in shambles, like Sophie’s, because women in Christmas movies who are successful in their careers must be unsuccessful in their personal lives. It is the Way.

What is this?

We are confused by the giant pencil shavings in Sophie’s apartment. Bitches, Please advise.

Shana: Thank goodness Sophie leaves her Manhattan hovel for sweet sweet Scotland. And it sure doesn’t take her long to stumble across a grouchy blond in work gloves.

Carrie: Apparently my sexual orientation is Cary Elwes (who plays Our Hero, Myles) hanging up a sign that says “Cozy Beds.”




Shana: OMG it’s a group of Scottish knitters in a pub! I love knitting, and pubs. And there’s a Black Scottish knitter! Maisie, the manager of town’s B&B is played by comedian Andi Osho. That’s it, this movie gets an A for me.

And lo, a sighting of a second Black person in this movie.

Carrie: Multiple people of color in the gift shop! There is much rejoicing.

I don’t know how to describe the noise I made when I saw the castle library.

Please marry me, Myles, and take me to live in this library.

Shana: Ok, the library is beautiful, but look, there’s more knitting! And now they’re teaching Sophie how to knit. One of the knitters is Angus, a gay widower with an impressive beard who has not spoken since his husband died. Carrie keeps whispering that he’s the true romantic hero of the movie.

Carrie: My love for Angus is pure.

Myles explains all the environmental things they do with the land and that he is an Environmental Engineer. GUYS. HE IS A NERD. My love for Angus is pure but a woman has NEEDS, you know.

Shana: I agree on Angus. And the cuddly actor who plays him is definitely my type. I would swipe right.

The knitters agree!

The knitters agree!

We finally get an explanation of why Sophie is in Scotland and not, say, St. Croix, where it’s warm. Sophie’s father’s family were groundskeepers at the castle when he was a child. They were forced to leave when he was caught carving his name in a door inside the castle. Her dad always promised to take her to come visit, but he died before they could make the trip. So now Sophie gets to be an honorary Scot.

And Myles isn’t just a beautiful Scottish man who lives in a castle. He’s also a DUKE.

When Sophie finds this out, she calls him “Your Highness” and we immediately scream “it’s your grace” because obviously a romance novelist would know that. We are willing to forgive a lot, but not this.

Alert! Everyone, we have banter. And snark. Myles needs to sell his castle because of debts, but he’s reluctant to sell it to anyone, particularly an annoying American like Sophie.

She doesn’t seem too impressed by him either.

But he needs the money, so he takes her hefty deposit, and draws up a contract that requires her to live in the castle with him until Christmas. He thinks he can make her miserable enough to quit, leaving him with a nice chunk of change.

Carrie: I’m no lawyer but I call shenanigans here. On the other hand there’s a crack about how the only dukes who act like gentlemen are “English dukes.” That made me laugh so hard that I got cookie crumbs everywhere.

Sophie is super hostile in these interactions with Cary and I do not understand her hostility.

Shana: We need them to bicker, because it’s hot.

Carrie: We have already established that Hamish (a dog) and Brooke are the true OTP of this movie. Hamish is a Good Boy.

Brooke + Hamish = OTP

Shana: I appreciate that Myles respects Sophie’s capacity for rage. He’s appropriately worried that she might kill him in her sleep. I also love his dry sense of humor. Cary’s got some great laugh lines!

Carrie: Sophie and Myles settle in to be cranky weird roommates. Myles tries to make managing a castle sound intimidating (which in real life it is) but it’s not even a fixer upper castle. I mean it has fixer upper parts, but it’s in pretty good shape overall and already has plumbing and electricity.

Shana: Where are the staff? There’s got to be a round, apple-cheeked housekeeper making these gorgeous breakfasts and keeping the castle looking this beautiful.

And finally, we get what we’ve been waiting for, a random cute guy in a kilt, who is clearly into Maisie. I am EXTREMELY invested in their love story.

Meanwhile, the romance between Sophie and Myles is heating up, and I’m loving seeing a couple over 50 who are ga-ga over each other. Instead of convincing her not to stay in the castle, Myles makes the much better choice to be cute and take her on adventures when he could…

Carrie: …we are trailing off here because we got distracted by discussing castle renovations, for which we have plans, and then Shana laughed so loud at the foreshadowing when Miles tells Sophie about the legendary Duchess who saves the village with the help of a good man at her side that she woke up my dog.

Shana brought over expensive dog treats and is now using emotional coercion to make me feed these expensive treats to the dog. The dog is THRILLED.


Shana: It’s time for a musical interlude, courtesy of an evening at the pub. There are so many men in sweaters, Carrie! I’m overwhelmed with joy.

Carrie: SING A LONG!

Shana: Kilt Guy is at the pub to flirt with Maisie, and I want to know why he’s no longer wearing a kilt. That’s not how you get the girl, my dude.

Carrie: Kilt Guy is not defined by whether or not he wears a kilt, SHANA.

Shana: Damn. You know who can flirt? Myles! He just gave me butterflies with that sex-me look he shot at Sophie. I need to fan myself. Has he always been this hot?

Carrie: Yes, he has. He just did such a great smolder that I made my daughter bring me a glass of water.

Shana: Now the knitters are helping Sophie redecorate the freezing attic Myles put her in. The room is seriously fabulous. The look is Victorian ghost child in the attic + Laura Ashley.

Carrie: All the knitters want Sophie to do their hair, a skill that Sophie picked up by “living above a barber shop.” Somehow, this housing arrangement made Sophie proficient in styling hair for multiple people with varying hair textures. We are startled and unconvinced.

Carrie: We now have to pause the movie to talk about past hair experiences. It’s not pretty. Lots of trauma. A moment of silence is observed.

Show Spoiler

Lisa Simpson

Shana: Knitting nerd alert! Sophie’s first knitting project is actually perfect for a new knitter. It’s a garter stitch scarf. I call realism. Four stars!

Carrie: “Nice scarf!” says Shana. “Don’t loan it to Jake Gyllenhall,” says my daughter.

Shana: I am extremely impressed with myself that I got that Taylor Swift reference.

Carrie: The plot has been moving along exactly as expected – there was food, there was booze, there was knitting, and finally Sophie and Myles make out. However, we are disappointed by the first kiss business. It’s very indecisive. We are also REALLY hoping that Cary Elwes says “As You Wish” at some point.

Shana: Let the amazing romantic gestures begin! Myles carves the rest of Sophie dead dad’s name on the castle door, fulfilling dead dad’s childhood dream.

We scream in ecstasy!

So, we’re having a good time, but there’s 42 minutes more in the movie and everything’s been resolved, yes?

Show Spoiler

They already like each other, the “secret” that he’s trying to trick her into leaving has been exposed, and they’ve reached the point in the movie where they’re decorating the castle.

Any guesses about what will happen in the last part of the movie?

Carrie: There’s going to be a big misunderstanding, as well as some development of the romance between Maisie and Kilt Guy. Angus will say something profound, probably along the lines of “God Bless Us Every One.” Eventually they’ll have to save the village from a threat…


Shana: Either way, it seems like we’re getting more very hot banter, and I’m loving it. Especially when Myles looks impressed with Sophie’s barbs.

Carrie wants him to talk about being an environmental engineer again. She certainly has a type.

Carrie: Horsies! We have horsies! And a snow-filled pine forest.


All montages must end, and so now that Myles and Sophie have frolic through the picturesque woods and prepare to host the village for a Christmas Eve party, they lurch into the Big Misunderstanding! It’s arrived. And it…makes no sense. This is the most nonsensical fight ever.

Shana has carefully explained the fight to me but I keep blinking at the TV like a stoned goldfish. I am SO DISAPPOINTED in Myles.

The relationship between Sophie and Hamish the dog is the real romance here.

Kilt Guy is also disappointed in Myles. “Castles are meant to have walls around them. People aren’t.” That’s deep, Kilt Guy, very deep.

Sadly, Sophie plans to head back to her vast lodgings in New York right this very minute. Even when the kilting group says goodbye to her, and Angus talks, she is determined. It has been established by now that the villagers, knitters included, are dependent on the castle lands for housing, but Sophie tells them not to worry. “I’m paying off all of your mortgages.” Shana and I are in the wrong line of work. Also, it’s really classist and weird that she does this without consulting any of them. It’s all very Lady of the Manor which of course is what she wants to be.

I am shocked, SHOCKED that the car broke down on the way to the airport.

“It takes a village to raise a Netflix movie.” Wise words, from my daughter. We love the village’s ploy to keep Sophie around.

We are now treated to a montage of the montage.

Shana: I am a sucker for a grand gesture, and whoa, there’s some great gesturing going on here. And he just ROLLED UP HIS SHIRTSLEEVES at a ceilidh, which damn, that is hot. We are all heartwarmed watching Myles and Sophie make up, and dance, and surprise one another. Except for Carrie. Who hates everything.

Carrie: Me and Mr. Darcy are scowling from the corner going, “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever, PAL.” You have to work harder than this to earn my forgiveness, Myles.

But wait!

Show Spoiler

Myles flies Brooke’s daughter in for the party and to my embarrassment I have genuine tears in my ears. I’ll be an empty nester soon, OK, don’t judge me.

Angus dances a jig with bells in his beard. My heart has grown three sizes.

Shana: And, we’re done! Huzzah. Ok.

First and most importantly, we have to talk about Angus. The dude only had one line in the movie but he stole our hearts. It was nice to have a named gay character, but we need to deduct many points for giving him a dead husband and no subsequent romance. Shana thinks he’s dead sexy, and Carrie insists he’s the true hero of the movie.

We are both hoping for a sequel, starring Angus.

Angus, our favorite bearded knitter

We must deduct points for:

  • Wesley, I mean, Cary, I mean Myles, never said “As You Wish”
  • Angus’ first words weren’t “God Bless Us, Every One.” Thus, Carrie’s prophecy remained unfilled, and she was very disappointed.
  • Sophie wore a pointy ballgown that looked incredibly uncomfortable.
  • Sophie knows how to do hair because she lived above a barber shop. Carrie lives a block from a hardware store and she doesn’t know how to rewire your house.
  • Maisie and Kilt Guy’s love story started strong, but faded into the background and fizzled out
  • The Duke is an asshole at one point, which Carrie refuses to forgive.

We must add points for:

  • Sophie + Hamish the dog, the true love story
  • Angus’s beard, sweater, and hat game is FIRE
  • The swoony castle library that we both want
  • The accurate portrayal of Scotland as a place where not everyone is White
  • Pretty horsies.
  • Cary rolled up his shirt sleeves, which nearly made Shana faint.
  • Excellent competence porn—Myles fixes stuff. Like electricity, unlike Carrie.
  • The castle’s gorgeous Christmas lights and general ambiance. When we finally saw it lit up at night, we both sighed with happiness
  • Much yummy food and beverage, as expected for a Christmas movie
  • The knitting group was the best chosen family / sidekicks / matchmakers ever. They deserve one million points for them as a whole.
  • Cary and Brooke had good chemistry and we loved having a lead couple in their 50s.
  • Multiple excellent grand gestures from the hero, both in general and for atonement purposes after being an asshole.

What’s our FINAL SCORE for A Castle for Christmas?

Carrie: This movie was exactly the kind of movie that I want to watch during the holidays. It’s not deep, or edgy, or fresh. It’s extremely predictable and so unrealistic that one must posit that it takes place in an alternate universe. As cinema, it’s not great.

As Christmas viewing, it’s fabulous. Generally, I regard statements like “this is predictable and “this is unrealistic” to be negatives but frankly the more predictable and unrealistic a Christmas movie is, the more I adore it. I don’t want to think too hard. I just want to eat my snacks (thank you, Shana!) and admire beautiful actors in beautiful places in peace. Also, I was super happy to see such a sexy love story with leads in their 50s. Sexy laugh lines FTW!

On the other hand, I doubt this will be annual viewing for me. A lot of plot threads were dropped and the whole movie seems to have gone through some kind of crisis in the editing room with conflicts that aren’t really conflicts not to mention TWO montages. I enjoyed this movie but I enjoyed the company and the snacks more.

Shana: I thought A Castle for Christmas was a charmingly entertaining holiday movie, with solid romantic banter, middle-aged hotness, and a kooky cast of characters that almost stole the show. Maybe I was just high on sugar, but the pacing left me confused, and I wanted more of the secondary romance. There were many points where the story made no sense, but we were screaming too loudly at the romance tropes to care. Ultimately, the aspirational Christmas setting hit most of my buttons, and I’m glad we gave it a go.

What about you? Did you watch? What did you think? 

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