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25 Days of Bingemas, Day 13: ‘A Royal Corgi Christmas’

While there’s technically a rom-com going on here, nothing else matters when a corgi named Mistletoe is stealing the show

Getty Images/Hallmark Channel/Ringer illustration

The Ringer’s 25 Days of Bingemas is a guide for people who love original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who hate original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who occasionally watch these movies and want more; it’s a guide for people who never hope to watch these movies but would like to watch one writer descend into madness as she attempts to differentiate between 25 unique forms of holiday magic, 12 different fake countries, and eight different male leads who make you wonder, “Wait, is that the guy from Mean Girls?” (It isn’t, except for that one time when it is.) Every day for the next 25 days, Jodi Walker will feature one of this season’s 169 original holiday movies, answering a curated series of questions in order to showcase the genre’s masterful formula, the dedication to chaos, and the commitment to consistently widowing lumberjacks that launched an entire genre of TV movie. On the 11th day of Bingemas, we turn our cheerful spirits to …

What are we watching?

A Royal Corgi Christmas.

Where are we watching it?

Hallmark.

Why are we watching it?

Because, per Hallmark, “Prince Edmond hopes to win his mother’s love back with the gift of an adorable but unruly corgi. He hires American dog trainer Cecily to make the corgi presentable for the annual Christmas ball.”

How many Vanessa Hudgenses are in this?

No Vanessa Hudgenses star in this movie, which is too bad because she makes a great fake royal. Instead, we get Jordan Renzo, who looks kind of like Bo Burnham with a Hallmark filter on, and Hunter King, who hails from 766 episodes of The Young and the Restless (pause for gawking because my God) and is also the sister of Joey King, with whom she shares a whole face.

And it’s now, on the 13th day of Bingemas, when I must come clean: I chose most of the movies we’ve been visiting because they starred a Vanessa Hudgens–adjacent actor that I wanted to watch in a movie. But I do not know who any of these people are. They’re not from Full House or Pretty Little Liars; they’ve never even been on Dancing With the Stars. But that doesn’t matter. This movie was written, filmed, produced, aired, and selected for the 25 Days of Bingemas for one reason and one reason only: corgi content. If you’ve come here hoping to read about a coherent plot, palpable chemistry, general stakes, or a scene with more than 10 people in it at a time—well, have I mentioned that there are corgis?

How believable are the lead characters’ ostensible careers?

If I understand YouTube stardom correctly, the idea that Cecily could go from being a dog walker in college to a viral YouTube dog trainer who wrote a book called DOG-MA … is pretty accurate. If I understand royal families correctly, Prince Edmond being a wayward eldest son who hasn’t been home for Christmas in years and has somehow managed to make it 30-ish years without knowing that the family corgis have a royal lineage all their own would be … beheading territory, I think. Yet this guy is somehow about to be crowned the next king.

Is there a child who’s wise beyond his/her years?

Of course there is also a third lead in this movie: Mistletoe the corgi. A perfect name for a perfect dog whose belly hangs so close to the ground, not even two ants could kiss beneath him. Mistletoe is pretty much the only character in the entire movie whose story has any stakes. He is a pauper corgi who must become a prince corgi to save Christmas. When the royal corgi handler meets Mistletoe—an adorable dog—he practically spits in disgust: He is too old and too common to be trained. But Mistletoe is undeterred. He will learn how to roll over, and he will mend this family back together piece by piece if it’s the last thing he does. (He will also eat a whole ham.)

Are there any fake towns, or perhaps a whole fake country?

Finally, a proper fake country! The Isle of Comfrey’s castle looks like it was made in third-period theater tech, it is run almost entirely by dog-related staff, and after Mistletoe wrecks an awards ceremony in search of a ham, the queen exclaims, “I spent the last 30 years working to make Comfrey a premier Christmas destination only to have you dismantle it in 60 seconds!” A premier Christmas destination, I say! Alas, we hardly catch a glimpse of this fake Christmas country, but we do hear that Christmas Castle earned its nickname centuries ago when the royal family “made merry” with “a festive group of pilgrims who were stranded en route to the Holy Land one December”—that sounds a lot like Comfrey’s first orgy.

How problematic is the meet-cute on a scale of “one saved the other from falling in a snowbank” to “one is the other’s boss and they fall in love on a work trip”?

Since Hallmark notoriously understands the internet, a clip of Mistletoe raiding the buffet at a royal event goes viral, which means Mistletoe has to be trained in the ways of royal corgis before the queen’s televised royal Christmas ball address in two weeks. Or else … the country’s entire Christmas-industrial complex will collapse, I guess? It’s entirely unclear why Mistletoe being adorable is a matter of national security, but it is, and that’s how a Comfreyan prince winds up importing an American dog trainer to train his corgi—and his heart. (Sorry, sorry, I’m trying to delete.)

Is there a building in disrepair, or a business facing financial ruin?

There’s no financial ruin, per se, but Cecily has a dog nonprofit she’s trying to get off the ground, and after failing to get the investment of a Katie Couric type, her next solution is just … to get hired by a niche foreign royal family and then ask them to make a donation to her American charity. This is logic! This is Hallmark! You are hired, Cecily, but you’d better hide that binder full of notes that suggests you’re here not just out of the goodness of your heart!

Say, are these two opposites?

Yeah, Cecily is a cool dog trainer with a charity, and Edmond is a prince with no job, no responsibilities, no interest in the family business, and no instincts about changing any of that until a woman quite literally trains him, alongside Mistletoe, to be a better person. Gross! To be fair, Cecily seems most impressed by the way Edmond rakes his hand through his floppy hair after he takes off his fencing helmet and when he spontaneously decides to build a regulation basketball court at a children’s home the one time he steps outside the castle walls to meet his subjects. And really, who can’t relate?

Is there any magic?

Oh, there is Hallmark’s favorite form of magic: a wishing tree! But not just any wishing tree—Comfrey’s world-renowned wishing tree. At the end of the movie, after Edmond and Cecily have shared a kiss so slight I’m not even positive their mouths touched, Cecily asks out of nowhere: “Are you ever gonna tell me what you wished for at that wishing tree?” And you know what? He doesn’t tell her! And it doesn’t matter. Magic is fluid, stakes aren’t real, and ultimately, it’s just a very corgi Christmas around here (not to be confused with 2019’s A Very Corgi Christmas).

How modest are the wardrobe choices?

Nothing makes Hallmark pull out the ugliest dress you’ve ever seen quite like an American-cum-royal plotline. For Cecily’s first date with Edmond, she puts on a cute lace top and skirt … then decides she should change into something nicer—a plain red dress you could somehow appropriately wear to a funeral.

Is there a villain who sows discord?

Carrington, the royal corgi handler, who’s also dating Edmond’s sister, really is the worst, but he’s also asshole boyfriend representation, and I have to respect that coming from Hallmark. They cannot all be princes; they cannot all be corgi paupers. Some boyfriends are just idiots, and Carrington is one of them. But he crossed the wrong corgi when he refused to train Mistletoe and then exposed Cecily for wanting donations for her charity. Edmond’s sister calls him “an awful swine of a person” when she finds out he’s been scheming, which I think is Comfreyan for “I’m taking the dog, dumbass.”

Did this movie make me cry?

The stakes of A Royal Corgi Christmas are literally based on whether one woman can teach a dog to stay in two weeks’ time. And by the time the Christmas ball rolls around, the entire country of Comfrey is already so in love with Mistletoe that it doesn’t matter if he wanders around during the speech—when Edmond ultimately passes the crown to his much more qualified sister. So no, I absolutely did not cry. But I did do quite a bit of giggling anytime one or more corgis were on-screen, and really, what more can you ask for from A Royal Corgi Christmas?