Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Everything that's wrong with The Noel Diary Netflix movie

The Noel Diary movie Netflix

I was planning on doing a general wrap-up year-end post for today with all the bookish highlights of my year. But then I watched a Christmas movie with Steve and now I need to purge the rage.

So for the last couple of years we've watched A Christmas Exchange (based on Molly Cooper's Dream Date by Barbara Hannay) and A Castle For Christmas starring Brooke Shields. In A Christmas Exchange, the heroine is an aspiring editor and wants to edit books for a large publishing house. In A Castle For Christmas, the heroine is a successful author who needs a break and inspiration for her next book. Both were delightful.

Based on those movies, Steve wanted something that was book-related. I asked the ever helpful Facebook hive mind, and the top recommendation was The Noel Diary. I did not know when I watched the movie, but found out after that it was adapted from a book with the same title, written by Richard Paul Evans. Based on quite a few people saying it was a good movie, we dove in.

I'll start with all the good things about the movie first. Then I'll move onto the stuff that was problematic and made me want to purge the rage.

Small town Christmas

Okay. What I liked.

All the snow. Pretty, fluffy, white snow. So much of it. Everywhere. All white and pretty and pristine.

So much Christmas. Small town Christmas festival. Watching It's A Wonderful Life in the town square. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.

Small town vibes.

Friendly people. Awesome neighbor who conveniently knows all the small town gossip and everything that's happened in the past. I really liked the neighbor. She was lovely.

The interaction between the hero and the heroine and how they encouraged and supported each other.

The dog. Ava was an incredible dog.

The opening scene at the book signing. Author goals, man! Super cute as well.

So that all ticks the Christmas boxes. Yay! But it had a problematic plot, and I knew it was a problem from the moment the heroine mentioned it.

Snowy Christmas trees

Before I continue, though, remember I'm referring to the MOVIE. Not the book, though that's got its own set of problems. That said, I should have read the reviews for the book first before going into watching the movie and perhaps I would have been more prepared and less angry at the movie the more I think about it, or I would have skipped the movie altogether.

And I want to say first though that that I tend ignore or gloss over a lot of stuff with movies. I usually roll with whatever crazy plot stuff a movie throws out. I mean I love the John Wick movies. All the boom! And I thought The Lost City was hilarious and a great parody of the romance genre while a lot of people complained about it being unrealistic. And complaints about movies or TV shows not being true to the book or source material? Eh. I’m okay with creative license. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so worked up over a movie that I’ve gone on a rant about the plot being problematic before. I’m generally pretty easy going and forgiving when it comes to my entertainment.

I think one thing really contributed to me getting so worked up. I work in the romance publishing industry. I know what constitutes a good romance, so if there are obvious issues with a romance plot, they would jump out at me. It’s my day job after all. So maybe I should just not watch romance movies.

The final caveat. These are MY opinions and how I feel about the themes in the movie (possibly the book too if the movie stayed fairly true to the source material). As one friend said, "you guys, I must have just glossed over all the bad and simply saw the good in this movie. At the time I found it better than the other ridiculous fluff that’s been showing" when we were discussing what I considered problematic plot points in the movie with some friends. And another friend said, "Loved that movie. It was the first Christmas movie I watched this year!"

Spoilers ahead

Also, ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** continue at your own risk.

Let's start with the one which could have been easily fixed and if I'm not mistaken the book actually had an epilogue. A quick look on Amazon for the Table of Contents shows an epilogue. I do not know what the screenwriters were thinking when they decided to end the movie with her standing across the street his and him seeing her standing there and smiling. Maybe they were trying to echo the beginning when he catches glimpses of her scoping out the house before they actually meet? Nothing has been resolved at that point, but I'm guessing that her being there implies that they will end up together and she's ditched the fiance.

Which brings me to the point that makes me RAGE. Why did, out of all the romance people in my life who recommended the book, no one mention to me that there's cheating in the movie and it's a fairly obvious major thread in it? Like, the moment she mentioned to him that she's engaged and has a fiance, I knew where this was heading.

She's engaged. She has a wonderful fiance who seems to love her to bits (apparently it's different in the book if you read the reviews on Goodreads), but she's dissatisfied and uncertain. Honestly, she comes across as kind of a selfish bitch when it comes to the way she thinks about and treats her fiance. Ignoring his calls, not telling the fiance about the hero, not telling the fiance she's going on this road trip with the hero.

Engagement ring

So she cheats on her fiance with the hero. Does this just make it okay because it's the hero she's cheating with and she's conflicted about her fiance? Um... no! Cheating is cheating. And the hero is no better since he KNOWS she is engaged and yet he still pursues her, and they land in bed together. It was all very PG and fade to black, but yeah, they did it, because we got the gratuitous half naked body shot of Justin Hartley lying in bed with the other side clearly slept on.

Why did no one tell me THERE IS CHEATING IN THIS MOVIE?

Oh, it's a romance and she cheats on her fiance with the hero, plus it's sweet, and they find themselves, resolve issues, and it's set in a small town during Christmas.



Love triangle

To be fair, there's a lot worse things in romance these days if you read dark romance or monster smut. But this is a feel good Christmas movie so to me, cheating in a Christmas movie is problematic.

A lot of people complained about the instalove. C'mon, you don't believe the instalove, but you're okay with the cheating? Seriously?

This one-star review on Goodreads says it best. Harsh, but succinct.

Quotes: STOP ROMANTICIZING CHEATING!!!! It’s NOT cute! It’s NOT romantic!!! If your characters are in a bad relationship with someone who doesn’t really care about them, first of all why are they even engaged to that person in the first place?? And secondly, have them end it BEFORE they begin moving on with another person! Why would I want to read about a man constantly hitting on and flirting with a woman who he knows is engaged??? And why is she allowing it? These characters are TRASH! This whole book was cringey and disturbing. I enjoyed other books by RPE but this one was very disappointing.

Another issue that a friend mentioned which was probably less uncomfortable for me, but if you really think about it, particularly if you have children is also disturbing is the fact that Jake's father left him with his mentally unstable mother thinking that the 4-year-old Jake would be able to help his mother get over the death of his brother. You have to read between the lines a lot in the movie to see how it's all dealt with and resolved when Jake reconciles with his father, but as my friend says:

Quotes: The other thing that bothered me was that the father just said he wrote letters and all was forgiven. But he admitted he knew the mother had a mental illness, and left the son there to "help" the mother. Well, if that's your reasoning, then at the very least, you stay in town to keep an eye on the son's welfare. And if for some reason you do leave town, and you write letters that never get a response, then you recognise that's a red flag and you GO TO THE HOUSE to do a welfare check on the son you left with an unstable single parent. The level of neglect was huge, and made worse by the father's explanation, not better.

Dog in snow

There's also the silliness of them sleeping overnight in the unheated car in freezing temperatures (all that snow), leaving the dog alone in the car in the cold, leaving her and the dog in the car alone in the car while he goes and spends hours with his father in the house while they work through their issues, and the fact that it's freezing and they are in normal clothes and one coat or jacket. I guess in a movie, you ignore sub-zero freezing temperatures and opt for looking cute instead of being wrapped up like the Michelin Man.

The things they get wrong about publishing? Or romanticise about publishing, like the book signing? Don't really care. It's actually funny to me though I expect some people might have issues with it, but that's minor compared to a romance having cheating in it for me.

If you read the reviews, only a handful of people mention and have an issue with the cheating, which then begs the question, why are so many readers and by extension, people okay with cheating? As that one reviewer said, stop romanticising cheating. It's not cute, and it's not romantic. And it is definitely NOT OKAY.

Snowy Christmas blue sky

Don't know about other people since so many who read the book were okay with the cheating, but I, for one, would have liked to have known about the cheating. I may have still watched the movie...maybe, but then, at least I would have been mentally prepared for it. Yes, yes, I know, it's a spoiler, but in this case, I'd want to know. It's like trigger warnings in books and how readers these days DEMAND trigger warnings. This is one warning with the movie I would have appreciated, spoiler be damned.

Tell me, have you watched the movie? What did you think? And if not, are you going to watch it?

Find Deanna around SOCIAL MEDIA:
blogger  blogger  rss  facebook  twitter  instagram  email  youtube  pinterest  goodreads  TikTok



  1. I agree, cheating in a book/movie is a hard pass.

    1. I tend to be pretty flexible with most things in my romance, but cheating is a big no for me.