Christmas with the perfect family threatens the well-intended lesbian romance.
In a recent releases of LGBT movies, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan had different emotions but connected well in the period drama “Ammonite,” Paul Bettany portrayed a closeted man in the 1970s haunted by his dead homophobic father’s cruel words, and now, I’m dishing on the holiday romcom “Happiest Season,” which takes place in the present era, but still has its ups and downs. Some homosexuals can’t come out of the closet, because of the abuse and dislike in certain parts of the world, and being that the main lesbian’s parents are trying to have a good image, this movie is easily understandable about that.
Written and directed by Clea DuVall, “Happiest Season” has its heart in the right place with its lesbian love story, but it feels too annoying and awkward for me to fully enjoy. It tries to channel on the “Meet the Parents” genre, but it doesn’t explode like “Crazy Rich Asians” did.
As the film begins, we meet girlfriends-Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis)-who both plan to wake up to each other on Christmas morning. Abby, whose parents passed away a while ago, is invited by Harper to come to her wealthy family’s home for the holidays. She’s even planning to pop the question to Harper.
There’s just one thing: Harper is a closeted woman, who hasn’t told her parents about her interests, because her father (Victor Garber) is running for mayor, while her bossy mother (Mary Steenburgen) is desperately trying to make his image look good for the public. Consider the old lady a pushier version of Michelle Yeoh’s character in “Crazy Rich Asians,” much more pushier than that. Obviously, these people haven’t heard the saying: “Nobody’s perfect,” but then again, certain people have to look good in order to win elections or job opportunities.
They have to embellish the truth by saying they’re just roommates. Also in this family are Harper’s two sisters: the Happy-Go-Lucky, but mistreated Jane (Mary Holland), who often screws up, and the mean and snobbish Sloane (Alison Brie), who has creepy twins. Not “Shining” creepy, but joyless kids who talk like aliens.
The only supporting characters Abby connects with in this area are her flamboyant friend John (Dan Levy), who has to be her wingman on the phone, and Harper’s ex-girlfriend Riley (Aubrey Plaza), who had a difficult high school experience. These two characters are sane enough to win you over with their sincerity, while the family is so consumed with being so perfect, that they end up being exhausting.
“Happiest Season” is a movie that has good intentions, but relies too much on the “perfect family” routine to be funny. You only have to wait until the film’s turning point to see the family to reveal themselves, instead of them just having conversations in various parts. There are some ticklish and sweet moments, and I liked the performances from Stewart, Mackenzie, Levy, and Plaza, but it should have cut back on the awkward tone and given more depth to the lesbian romance. I acknowledge Harper’s reality, given the circumstances, but she should be lucky she’s in a better generation-one that mostly shows respect for the LGBT community. You have my sympathy on that notion, but not so much for this romcom.
Available on Hulu