Review by Jay Cook
If you’re looking for something to get you into the Christmas mood, Happiest Season will give you the feels. But don’t expect much more. Sure, it’s got a couple of faces you’ll recognise, and Kristen Stewart has clearly decided she’s not too cool for school. But it’s not quite enough to stand up against some of the great Christmas films that have earned a part of people’s hearts every year. It ticks the boxes, and you might even find a laugh on the way, but it’s by no means a movie you’ll remember.
Picture this, your parents sadly passed away when you were 19 which has understandably led you to not particularly caring for Christmas. But as you’re fast approaching that time of the year again your partner full of Christmas joy and love invites you to their big family home for the holiday. Hesitantly, you go only to find out your partner’s parents think you’re a “friend” and in actual fact, have no idea your partner is even gay. What would you do?
Abby (Kristen Stewart) finds herself in that exact situation. And in true comedic style, just keeps rolling with the punches as she gets let down by her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and what is a rather horrible family to each other. Will Harper come out to her family? Will her family except her? Will Abby ever forgive her for the lies? And will there be a happy-ever-after ending? The short answer is, “yes”.
This film most certainly goes through the motions you’d expect from any movie about a family gathering. People accidentally hurting themselves, children being weird, arguments and the law enforcement being involved at some point. Top that all off with a big family surprise for shock value and then the family pulling together in the spirit of Christmas. Nothing new, nothing exciting and all so very predictable.
It’s also the big commercial “coming out” movie of 2020. Again, going through the motions and taps into a market that has taken Hollywood far too many years to realise there’s money to be made in the LGBTQ community. Living the lie and keeping the secret, denial, coming out and the roller coaster of emotions as you realise half of that wasn’t necessary.
To be fair, the movie doesn’t work without the lesbian storyline. But it’s also not necessary. Don’t get me wrong, a coming-out story is always needed in mainstream Hollywood. It’s horrible to say, but it honestly felt like they were just trying to use that storyline as it’s a bit popular at the moment.
With all that aside, there’s some lovely heartfelt Christmas Joy and love you’d expect from a rom-com Christmas film. Dan Levy who has become a familiar face this year thanks to Schitt’s Creek brings some much-missed David Rose back to the screen. His quick wit and ability to throw a line away as he moves to the next for comedic value is priceless. Who doesn’t want to be tracked via their mobile phone by their best friend?
Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels, Personal Shopper, The Twilight Saga) is very quickly becoming a comedic talent we didn’t see coming. Stewart has moved away from her lip biting, head tilting, one face for every mood acting to only use that skill for when the scene calls for it. Otherwise, Stewart has managed to bring a whole range to Happiest Season giving Abby a rather relatable and wholesome character.
Overall, Happiest Season gets to a point where all you want is Dan Levy to come back on screen and bring the lol’s. It goes through all the motions of an outsider going to a family Christmas, but this film throws in the coming-out spin. It’s predictable, it’s wholesome, it doesn’t quite work but you’ll have a little giggle along the way. There are some wonderful monologues that will give you the feels. But while you’ll feel it watching it on the screen, as soon as you look away, you’ll forget all about it.
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