In The Royal NannyHallmark is sneaking into a whole new genre: the spy movie! This time, Hallmark gives us high-stakes vacation tips and — can you believe it? – action scenes. Is doing The Royal Nanny gives Hallmark his own Bond? Or should Hallmark stick to the genre it knows best: small town romcoms?
The core: Rachel Skarsten (Batwoman) plays Claire, a highly trained security officer who is on the trail of a criminal (Barbara Hellemans) who is orchestrating a terror plot against the royal family. When there is evidence that the criminal is working with someone deep in the royal palace, Claire must go undercover as a royal nanny to protect Princess Rose (Katie Sheridan) and her two children (Isabelle Wilson, Phoenix Laroche). The catch: Claire is single, has no children, and has no family (she’s an orphan). What does she know about caring for children?!
After a whirlwind 24-hour training session from Nanny Sergeant Ms. Lansbury (Greta Scacchi), Claire endears herself to the princess and the children, but she clashes with the children’s uncle, a handsome royal named Colin (Dan Jeannotte). As the days dwindle until Christmas, Claire gets closer and closer to discovering the traitor in the palace and closer to Colin. But what if Colin is the traitor in the palace? What will Claire do if her crush becomes a suspect?
Which movies will it remind you of?: A tough field worker who has to learn to deal with a chic undercover performance? This is like Hallmark’s version of the pacifier or Miss Congeniality, but at Christmas. And screenwriter Brook Durham really knows the spy language because some of these scenes — especially the climax — feel like they’re straight out of the Alias. But… like, Alias as done by Hallmark.
Achievements worth watching: Greta Scacchi’s Mrs. Lansbury, aka Scary Poppins, is a quiet badass. She may look and act like a stuffy British nanny stereotype, but then you find out she’s deadly with an umbrella and has a network of nanny spies all over the city… the country… maybe the world???
Memorable Dialogue: “A nanny always plans rain.”
A holiday tradition: Colin leads the annual His Majesty’s Christmas Charity, which donates toys to orphanages. There is, of course, also an annual Christmas tree lighting and a Christmas wishing fountain nearby.
Two Turtle Doves: IONs A prince and poor Christmas (December 11) shows a federal agent whose key informant is missing – so she grabs a lookalike to fill in… except he’s really a European prince vacationing in America. That’s a lot from starting point.
Is the title correct?: It makes sense, but it’s too general and completely misses the selling point of this movie: it’s a Quality mark spy romance. what did you think about dr. Ho Ho Ho, From Christmas with love, You only give twice as gifts, In His Majesty’s Nanny Service, Gifts are forever, Octonanny, Giving daylight, A look at a Christmas, Quantum of Solstice — I could go on.
Our opinion: What is hallmark? doing this season??? You look forward to a whole month of cookie cutter movies all year round about women who give up their high-paying jobs to go back home and marry their high school sweetheart, who is now a local baker or mechanic or something. There is a formula, and the formula works! And then Hallmark, the gold standard of formula holiday movies, throws away the formula? Hallmark doesn’t just start making holiday movies by numbers, but really fun – and original! – holiday movies? This has been an ever-growing case in recent years, with one or two highlights per season really pushing the idea of what a Hallmark movie can be. The Royal Nanny grabs an umbrella and pats what we think a Hallmark movie should be lying flat on its back.
I don’t know how a real spy movie made it to production and broadcast, seemingly making only a few concessions to fit Hallmark’s house style. Yes, there is a handsome royal and there is a simmering sexual tension between the royal and the ‘nanny’ as they make witty remarks but eventually find common ground. There’s a tree lighting and Christmas wishes being made and there are misunderstandings that keep our clues apart – but in this film, the misunderstanding leads to Colin being accused of plotting an attack on his country and to be interrogated.
Is this hallmark or is this Andoro?
I can’t stress enough that this is an undercover spy movie like a Hallmark movie. It’s like a Hallmark movie. It has all the same Christmas decorations and perfectly pleasing performances, but there is an actual threat, actual danger and actual intrigue. There are red herring and betrayal! I honestly watched a Hallmark holiday movie not knowing where the conspiracy went.
All of this works because the performances have a foothold in both of these very different genres. Of course Rachel Skarsten can play an undercover secret agent; she played serial villain Alice on batwoman and black canary on Birds of prey. She takes the role of Claire Champion just as seriously! By the end of the film, Claire has a signature weapon and catchphrase. I do not know if The Royal Nanny is a backdoor pilot for a series of Claire Champion: Royal Spy movies, but I’m very much on board if so.
Our call: FLOW IT. Who knew Hallmark could get away with putting a spy movie in his Christmas lineup??