Christmas movies ideally should give us love and hope and not drown us in corn syrup. This queer Christmas rom-com has just enough tartness to balance the sugar.
Happiest Season is worth making time for because it has; a) a same-sex couple front and centre, b) Dan Levy channelling David Rose, c) Kristen Stewart channelling her best sexy, skulking self, and d) Dan Levy in it.
It’s from the USA so there’s a reasonable dollop of sucrose product but this is balanced somewhat by scowling children, an adorably wacky sister and Dan Levy. Did I mention it has Dan Levy in it?
In the Norman Rockwell opening credits, we learn that Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abbie (Stewart) have met, fallen in love and moved in together. Harper is a bright eyed daughter of privilege with a mother called Tipper (Mary Steenburgen), a dad running for mayor (Victor Gerber) and a promising career as something important.
Abbie is parentless, cynical about Christmas and fond of black clothes. When Harper invites her to spend Christmas with her family, she sees it as an important step in their relationship. When Harper admits that her parents don’t know she’s a lesbian and that Abbie will need to pretend to be her orphaned roommate in need of charity, she is understandably peeved.
The story unfolds as you’d expect. There is sibling rivalry with lawyer-become-stay-at-home-mum Sloane (Alison Brie), attempts by Harper‘s parents to hook her up with an ex-boyfriend and a well-worn trope where Harper will need to choose between a fairly toxic family dynamic and her life with Abbie.
Dan Levy plays Abbie’s best friend John and owns every moment he is on screen. Stewart is sexy AF and for a fair chunk of the movie I was hoping she’d ditch Harper for the much more grounded Riley (Aubrey Plaza). As great as Mackenzie Davis is, she can’t really make Harper completely likeable.
The messaging is clear and revolves around not only having the courage to be yourself but also not being a dick about other people. Harper’s other sister Jane (Mary Holland) is overlooked and dismissed by everyone but seems the most sure of herself. I’d be quite happy to watch a sequel just about her (and Dan Levy).
Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts.