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.
Christmas movies are a staple of the season and there’s an endless list of movies to choose from, both good and bad, yet in recent years there seems to have been less, and pretty much all that I’ve had the misfortune to see have fallen into the bad category. ‘Happiest Season’, welcomingly, is one of the better recent efforts, a sharper film that explores deeper themes than we’ve became accustomed to with festive movies. I will caveat that I always feel that the barometer for a Christmas movie is lower than others and by that metric, ‘Happiest Season’ is pretty good and has a stronger story running through it than many other modern Christmas movies.
‘Happiest Season’ is the story of Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis), a gay couple who are planning to spend the holidays together for the first time with Harper’s family. Abby is planning to use this occasion to propose, however unbeknownst to her, Harper hasn’t told her family she’s gay and to make matters worse, she’s told them Abby is her roommate who has nowhere to go. It’s a solid premise and the smart script (from Clea DuVall and Mary Holland) makes good choices in how the drama that flows from this plays out, from the insertion of supporting cast members into the plot to writing in ways to escalate the situation.
Mackenzie Davis is good, but it’s Kristen Stewart who really shines in the more challenging role of Abby. She’s the character who is sidelined and who has to carry the weight of emotion and secrecy, and she is really brilliant here – she often gets a lot of unwarranted criticism, probably going back to the ‘Twilight’ series, but she’s an excellent actress and she proves it once again here. It’s also got a really fun supporting cast with Aubrey Plaza and Dan Levy the highlights, even if Levy is essentially playing an alternate universe David from ‘Schitt’s Creek‘!
It’s a Christmas film so a positive ending is almost mandatory and ‘Happiest Season’ smartly creates a situation where there are two paths to go down for that happy ending – I suspect viewers will have differing opinions on whether the right path is chosen and that’s a good thing. All in, this isn’t going to trouble the classics, but for a new Christmas movie, I found ‘Happiest Season’ to be pretty enjoyable.
Directed By: Clea DuVall
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Mary Holland, Ana Gasteyer, Jake McDorman and Burl Moseley