Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is a movie with a brick strapped to the accelerator — and you’ll love every insane second
In case you somehow missed this, Dolly Parton has been out here saving the world in 2020. She gifted us with a new Christmas album, holiday sweater line, and bakeware. She donated money to help develop a coronavirus vaccine. And she created a Netflix original holiday film that is so hilariously, loveably batshit insane, you are guaranteed to forget about all your 2020 woes for all 98 minutes of its runtime.
I will admit: I did not know what I was getting myself into when I queued this one up on Saturday morning. In fact, I put rewatching A Christmas Prince and The Knight Before Christmas ahead of Christmas on the Square in my cheesy holiday viewing this year. How wrong I was. Dolly Parton’s movie is the cheesiest and most wonderful of them all. If you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now and just go turn on Netflix.
TBH, this video about sums it up.
In the opening scene, we find ourselves in an idyllic, small town square, where the townspeople are singing and dancing about the upcoming Christmas season, and Christine Baranski is singing about her checkered past and the pile of eviction notices she’s about to deliver to everyone in the town. She’s selling the land so it can become a mall, and naturally, everyone has to be out by Christmas Eve.
Oh, and then there’s Dolly Parton, wrapped in burlap to make her look like a homeless person. But no ragged cloak can hide her shiny white outfit, or the fact that she’s literally glittering. She’s an angel who will be visiting Baranski’s character later, ready to help her along the way as she transforms her heart with forgiveness, love, and Christmas joy. You know, pretty much a day’s work for Parton, who is an actual angel IRL.
I don’t even want to give much more away, other than the fact that this movie packs in plot twists at a rate I genuinely did not know was possible for a film that lasts just over an hour and a half. There’s a scandalous teen pregnancy, a secret adoption, a world-weary child bartender, lifelong heartbreak based on a simple misunderstanding, a cancer diagnosis, a car crash on the bridge, a traumatic brain injury, a couple fighting infertility, the aforementioned evictions, Baranksi’s character grappling with the recent death of her father — and it’s all set to 14 original Dolly Parton songs, performed with all the shameless enthusiasm of a community theater troop (remember community theater?).
By the end of that hour and 38 minutes, you’ll probably sit back and wonder what just happened. But you’ll also have a lot of new holiday songs stuck in your head, and a deep appreciation for a frankly underutilized genre of holiday film: The campy musical.
So queue up Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square and get ready for the wild ride that it is. I suggest pouring a big glass of wine and making a night of it.