Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Happiest Season

Happiest Season puts a twist on your typical meet the parents film as Harper (Mackenzie Davis) invites her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) home with her for the holidays. However, on the road, Harper reveals her conservative parents (Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen) don't know that she is gay or that Abby is her girlfriend. This leads Abby to play the role of roommate in need of a place to stay over the holidays. It doesn't take long for the role to weigh heavy on Abby as the film's romcom shenanigans also give Harper's parents the wrong impression of her.

The set-up of a strong conservative patriarch with a family too scared to tell him the truth reminded me of Merry Happy Whatever with Stewart playing a combination of the Brent Morin and Ashley Tisdale characters. Although the film is primarily centered on Harper, her sisters (Alison Brie and Mary Holland) also have their own secrets and resentments. The cast is further filled out by Dan Levy as Harper's support line, Aubrey Plaza as Harper's secret high school girlfriend, and Jake McDorman as Harper's high school boyfriend who Harper's parents are cluelessly trying to set-up with Harper over the holidays.

Despite Abby's struggles with the situation, and the only minimally hidden dysfunction of the Caldwell family, Happiest Season offers the typical feel-good Christmas film stuffed with more than a little romcom zaniness. Stewart and Plaza are the stand-outs here, and get some minimal time bonding over the inability of woman who they have both loved to be honest about who she is and what she wants. Levy also steals an important scene late in the film concerning the very real struggle that Harper is facing. There are no heroes or villains here, just secrets and insecurities which eventually must be faced at Christmas.

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