Sunday, November 22, 2020

Happiest Season - Movie Review

The Movie: Happiest Season

The Director: Clea DuVall

The Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen

The Story: A holiday romantic comedy that captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family's acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas.

The Review:
Right off the bat, this movie had my attention with Kristen Stewart and MacKenzie Davis front and center in the starring roles as Harper and Abby respectively. I really enjoy each of them on screen and they are both pretty fantastic and really fun to watch in this movie. Even in a holiday comedy, Stewart is able to show off skills that are far superior than most actors working today and it's great to see her taking on a wide range of roles (ie: Underwater) after getting stuck in a glittery pigeon hole for so long. MacKenzie Davis has been one of those people I've been waiting to break out, probably ever since the small role she had in The Martian and I think this movie gives her some momentum in that direction.

The story is really unique in that it presents an LGBTQ couple front and center in a holiday movie although I will say it treads the same waters of making the story about coming out and how terrible and awkward the experience will be for the entire family. This has been an entry point for movies and TV for some time now and it would be nice to just see a gay person or couple just exist without the fact that they are gay being the center of attention and driving force of the story. That being said, this is still a really fun movie and director Clea DuVall really gets the most out of the story she is wanting to present.

At its core, the -movie is about family and relationships so the themes are quite universal and, with a full on dysfunctional family firmly in place, DuVall takes full advantage of each of them for lots of laughs and some solid emotional hits by the time it's over. Alison Brie and Mary Holland are along for the ride as Davis' sisters and Aubrey Plaza is also on board as a high school flame that reenters the picture at a most interesting time. Schitt's Creek fans get to see Dan Levy who I just learned is the son of Eugene Levy and he pretty much steals every scene that he's in.

Sometimes a comedy like this can feel a little long or drawn out although not the case with this movie. DuVall keeps things moving along nicely with a wide variety of comedy filled scenarios and then balances them out with some heavy doses of emotions revolving around Abby and Harper's relationship and also the dysfunctionality I had mentioned when it comes to the family. I'd say this is definitely one of those movies you can gather the entire family around to watch, except maybe the little ones as there's a few bar scenes with heavy drinking and a fair amount of adult humor sprinkled in. Nothing though that would get a lump of coal stuffed into their stocking.

The Verdict:
Happiest Season is a genuinely funny Christmas movie and it packs a pretty solid emotional punch. If you are looking for a super fun, modern family take on the holiday season then you will want to add this movie to your lineup of this year's holiday films to watch.

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