Happy Christmas Review: Sometimes Real is Too Boring

Photo Credit:http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/06/11/anna-kendrick-melanie-lynskey-happy-christmas-joe-swanberg/

Every September, the networks try to shove upon us a story where the “bad girl” moves in with the “perfect family” and the two need to find a happy medium to coexist. That is also exactly what Happy Christmas does.

This movie feels like a 90 minute pilot episode to a TV show with a unique style but a plot no different from whatever CBS pumps out on Monday nights now.

Jenny (Anna Kendrick) is a pot-smoking 27-year-old with little to no direction in her life. After a bad breakup, she moves in with her brother Jeff (also director Joe Swanberg), his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), and their two-year-old son. Kelly aspires to be a writer, but has trouble finding the time as a stay-at-home mom. Jenny must teach Kelly to loosen up while Jenny learns responsibility.

It all sounds very typical, but at least the film is shot and written in a fairly unique manner. The camera always feels like a fly on the wall in what were probably heavily improvised scenes to give the dialogue a realness very few films are able to achieve. The acting makes way for a truly authentic experience, meaning we have several subdued but strong performances, the most effective being from Kendrick.

Other than that, there’s really not much to say about Happy Christmas. The style and performances lead to a strong sense of realness, but the plot is too mundane and overdone that it can’t be overcome. This is a fun movie. You’ll laugh a few times and you’ll get angry at some of the characters. But there just isn’t anything else going on. Yeah, that’s kind of the point, but the execution doesn’t really make it a point you want to see made for you. It all just kind of makes me shrug and wonder what movie I’m seeing next. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

 

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