Happiest Season is a Christmas romantic comedy movie directed by Clea DuVall and starring Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen.
Happiest Season is like any generic Christmas romantic comedy that comes out around this time of the year. However, there’s one single catch – our lead protagonists are gay. Early on in the movie, you’ll understand that director Clea DuVall thought that spinning a Christmas story around a gay couple would absolve it of all the clichés that we see here – but, really, no.
Happiest Season is like any other generic romantic movie as well. It has the same basic storyline, same characters, same situations. The only twist here is that the main characters are gay – that’s it. Listen, I am a sucker for mushy Christmas movies, they’re my go-to. However, with an ensemble cast like this, you’d expect something, absolutely anything, new.
The film follows a couple, Harper and Abby, who travel to Harper’s family home during Christmas to spend a week. However, Harper’s “picture-perfect” family does not know about her sexuality, and thus Abby must also go back into the closet. This leads to many awkward situations until something pushes Harper to come clean.
The moment Happiest Season crosses the 15/20-minute threshold, you’ll understand what is coming your way. It’s a tale as old as time that you expect from Netflix or Hallmark, maybe, but not from a movie that has such an impressive cast. It’s like watching another cliched movie that dazzles with everything beautiful – it’s all reds and golds everything and the scenes are so brightly lit that you feel like you’re looking into a box of decorations.
On top of this madness, the film’s attempts at humour are extremely off-putting and awkward and will make you cringe more often than not. Abby is constantly called “the orphan” and yes, I get that they wanted to show the family as people who don’t really care about Abby. But, I mean, no one is this blind. There are moments where certain conversations happen between people that are so expositional that it feels forced.
It also doesn’t feel like these people are real. Honestly, Happiest Season’s characters all feel like caricatures of people we need to see to make for a Christmas comedy. The golden child, the ignored one, the taken-for-granted one who no one gives a crap about, parents who are blissfully unaware of what’s going on in their children’s lives, and a gay best friend.
The biggest disservice here is probably to the brilliant Dan Levy who sits in a tiny box with a few funny lines and that’s about it. We don’t know or care about him and the film doesn’t care about that either.
The cast does a good job with what they are given, so does cinematographer John Guleserian. It’s all bright and cheery and nothing looks out of place. Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen are wonderful with the roles that they have to embody and add emotion to them. Although they are kinda annoying characters, but well, at least the actors do a good job. Kristen Stewart, as usual, shines in her role and I wish we get to see her more.
Happy Ending gives us a forced happy ending (man, that reminds me of Schitt’s Creek) which you won’t root for. You will, instead, root for Riley and Abby to get together because I am telling you, there is something genuine there. It ends with a long list of lessons about family and love and what it means to be happy. It’s half-baked and not organic and just leaves you unsatisfied.
However, I must give credit where its due, and the costumes and set design in Happiest Season are absolutely to die for. Everyone looks wonderful and the clothes that everyone wears are classic and absolutely stunning.
Summing up: Happiest Season
Happiest Season is a film that is not funny or, as I keep repeating, new. It’s a generic Christmas film that you watch when you’re bored to get the vibe in, but if you’re expecting something meaningful here, this is probably not the best place to look for it.
Now, excuse me while I rage for Dan Levy’s wasted potential.
Happiest Season is streaming on Hulu.
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