While Christmas on the Square is average, the singer’s influence over the story is the grabber.
This review of Netflix film Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square contains no spoilers. The musical will be released on November 22, 2020.
On the surface, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is an average gig, bringing a Scrooge-like story with some numbers to back up the story in time for the holiday season. It’s the casual reminder for the most magical and loneliest time of the year — family, friendship, and togetherness is our greatest power. But we do not need another musical to remind audiences of that notion; there’s plenty of films that do that.
But if you were not sold on the lengthy feature Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, then maybe a Dolly Parton musical will entertain your brains. Netflix is hot on the Christmas content this year, and while Christmas on the Square is average, the singer’s influence over the story is the grabber. Her presence and wise input into the film are what elevates the film from disposable to watchable. Dolly appears to be enjoying her Netflix contracts, and just like her music, she has a knack for storytelling.
The story centres itself on a town that was built for Christmas — there’s an air of love and vibrancy in the community. It’s the kind of town you’d love your children to grow up in, knowing they’d be safe and make wholesome friendships. However, the story turns on its head when a woman named Regina decides to sell the town to a shopping mall conglomerate, completely disregarding the people who live there. Regina has intricate links to the community in the story, so as it deepens and provides context, there’s some justification to her heartless approach.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square feels like it would work on the stage, with many of the settings and camera angles suggesting this is more theatre than a Netflix feature film. It’s almost like the characters are aware that the audience is watching, but with the charm and endearment of the musical numbers, audiences can be lulled into contentedness.
But a part of me believes that this film is a win/win for Netflix — regardless of what critics think, its pull from the ever-popular singer is all it needs; not only is Dolly Parton contributing to Covid vaccinations in 2020, she’s trying to bring the spirit of Christmas as well.