Finals are looming close and with it students like myself are probably yearning for the comfort of a fuzzy blanket and some Netflix. Whether you take in this comfort now or wait until winter break, you might come across a new movie to Netflix titled “Happy Christmas”. Don’t be mislead by the title, you probably won’t feel happy after watching it.
“Happy Christmas” is an indie film written and directed by Joe Swanberg, who also wrote and direct the 2013 sleeper indie “Drinking Buddies”. The film, which is set during the holiday season, was released on June 26 but its arrival to Netflix is perfect for this time of year. The film stars “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who was also in “Drinking Buddies” as a selfish twenty something party girl who crashes at her brother (played by Swanberg) and sister-in-law’s kitschy Chicago house following a break up, with their hilariously adorable two-year-old son, also played by Swanberg’s real-life son.
The only real joys you will find from this film is watching all the adorable two-year-old Jude, who outshines the rest of the cast including Melanie Lynsky in a not-always-believable british accent, Lena Dunham from “Girls”, and constant indie love interest Mark Webber.
The rest of the fairly short film has no clear direction. You see Kendrick’s character Jenny get wasted and embarrass herself throughout the film. Swanberg as brother Jeff and Lynsky as his wife Kelly believe at first that Jenny will be a big help with their son as they both work, but Jenny ends up being the bigger handful.
I started watching this movie thinking, is Jenny going to reform and change her reckless ways? Will we actually see what is really going on in her head, as she tells her friend Dunham’s character Carson that she’s okay. Will there be some big epiphany? As I watched the movie I didn’t find any redeeming or interesting qualities in Jenny.
Though Swanberg is charming and simple as Jeff, the real familial bonding in the movie is done by Jenny and Kelly. Kelly is a novelist and stay-at-home mom, and after a cringe-worthy scene between her, Jenny, and Carson about topic of working, parenting, and “having it all”, is eager to work head on with her next novel. Those plans are mostly squashed as Jenny tells her she should write an erotic novel a la “50 Shades of Grey”. That develops in mostly unfunny scenes of Jenny, Kelly, and Carson brainstorming the plot and terminology of their medieval erotic tale.
The movie ends quite abruptly. After a climactic scene between Jenny, Kelly, and Jeff, there really is no resolution or amends made. Jenny, still childish, cannot really apologize for the screw-ups she has incurred. This film is just another one of many stylistically hipster movies that are half-baked, with improvised scenes that don’t pay off because Lynsky and Kendrick can’t charmingly pull off improvisation. I can take comfort in the fact that I didn’t waste money seeing this movie in the theater, though I feel like this hour and a half could have been great time wasted during winter break and not during precious finals time. Two thumbs up to that baby Jude though, I bet he could have a very successful YouTube channel.
Final Verdict: 5/10