It's the holiday season when networks compete to see who can create the most creative holiday rom-com. Some are cliche and forgettable, whereas others are instant classics and watched annually.
EXmas, written by Dan Steele and directed by Jonah Feingold, was a delightful rom-com. It's sure to be a holiday hit for Amazon Freevee.
EXmas stars Robbie Amell and Leighton Meester as exes forced to spend the holidays together after a misunderstanding with Graham's (Amell) family. At the same time, this may seem like a cliche plot, but the actors' infectious chemistry and the over-the-top holiday decor sell it.
Graham seemed like Scrooge since he immersed himself in his work and wasn't going home for the holidays. He only changed his mind after his family guilted him into it, so naturally, he didn't understand why they weren't thrilled to see him.
Graham's family surprised everyone because they didn't want Ali (Meester) to spend the holidays alone and invited her to spend Christmas with them. But what angered Graham the most was that his entire family still chatted with her regularly.
Nothing is worse than bumping into your ex on a good day, but it's even worse learning you're spending the holidays with them. It's a disaster waiting to happen.
Graham doesn't know how he'll win over his family since they prefer Ali, who's ready to roll up her sleeves and join in all the Christmas fun. His only idea is to make her look bad and have her disappear.
However, Graham doesn't give Ali enough credit, and she catches on quickly, betting him that she can win over the favor of his family, and the winner gets all holidays at the Stroops.
This is what classic rom-coms are made of- when exes hate each other but fall back in love because of a stupid bet.
The over-involved family helps with that, too. Almost everyone emphasized with the Stroop kids during this film because the parents were over the top. Jeannie (Kathryn Greenwood) started decorating before Halloween was over and freaked out about the holidays being perfect.
Both parents are so involved in questioning Mindy about her love life that I understood why she never confided that she broke up with her girlfriend to begin with.
They made Graham uncomfortable about not joining the business or coming home more.
Even though the Stroops were invasive, there was so much heart at their holiday. You wanted to play their Scrabble game or eat their holiday dinner.
Both Jeannie (Greenwood) and Mindy (Veronika Slowikowski) offered humorous performances and needed advice to Graham.
While I appreciated the mother-son moments, I also enjoyed how Mindy showed Graham the tough love that only siblings can.
When he embarrassed her for kissing another girl, she reminded him that he never asked about her relationship with Heather. Drunk Mindy was delightful as a truth-teller.
From the ice fishing to being high at dinner, the Stropps provided needed hilarity.
While I loved Graham and Ali's infectious chemistry, at times, they also reminded me of Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl. Leighton Meester excels at comedy and bantering with her scene partner.
That's the good similarities the couples possess. However, I also found that Graham and Ali seemed dysfunctional, just as Chuck and Blair were. They engaged in a prank war, which seemed innocent, but what if someone had gotten hurt by one of them?
What I love about a dysfunctional couple is they can be screaming one minute and passionately making out the next minute.
Graham and Ali were so hot, but that didn't mean their relationship was magically fixed.
The best part of this film was watching Graham's growth. Amell played him as such a layered character. In the beginning, he seemed more like a jerk who was a workaholic.
He only cared about climbing the corporate ladder without paying attention to his family or Ali.
Graham made a mistake that many men do and assumed that Ali wanted him to provide for her to prove his love. However, she didn't care about taking an elaborate honeymoon. She wanted him there with him to support her in her day-to-day activities.
Her food truck was a massive piece of contention since he never made time to help her buy one, but she became a pastry chef instead.
It took a family tragedy for Graham to realize what he'd been missing.
He'd always assumed his dad would be around for years, so when he almost lost him, it helped him see that relationships were more important than launching a new game on Christmas,
The Stroops were hilarious when they were a united front. Poor Graham couldn't even apologize to Ali alone, but it was endearing that he listened to his mom and realized Ali wanted him for the everyday stuff.
Even though it was predictable, seeing Graham and Ali get their happy ending warmed my heart. It's why we watch holiday rom-coms.
While Meester and Amell both began their careers at The CW, this was their first time working together, and they possessed such an easy chemistry. Hopefully, they'll pair up and work together again.
With that tease at the end, do you think we might get a sequel following Mindy and Heather? We'd love to check in with the Stroops and their holiday chaos.
Over to you, TV Fanatics. How did you enjoy this holiday rom-com? Did you enjoy the relatable pairing of Leighton Meester and Robbie Amell? What did you think of the over-the-top holiday decor?
We love hearing your thoughts, so let us know in the comments.
EXmas is streaming now on Amazon Freevee.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.