Friday Film Review--"The Happiest Season"
The holidays are here, and so is a long list of seasonal films to stream at home. Linda Jager, who has this week’s Friday Film Review, says that among the offerings, “The Happiest Season” stays true to the holiday romantic-comedy genre, but with a twist.
Taking an unofficial count, I found 89 new holiday films available to stream in the comfort of your own home this season. Tune into Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and of course the Hallmark Channel, and you can get your fill of sugary seasonal flicks including “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square”; “Love, Lights, and Hanukkah!”; and “The Christmas Yule Blog” (yes…pun intended).
“The Happiest Season”, now streaming on Hulu, stands out among the traditional rom-com holiday offerings. It stars Kristen Stewart as Abby and Mackenzie Davis as Harper, a lesbian couple heading home for the holidays. It’s Abby’s first time meeting Harper’s parents, but while en route Harper discloses she has yet to come out to her conservative parents.
Harper suggests Abby pretend to be her straight, orphaned roommate during the holiday visit. Abby is appalled, especially as she was planning to propose to Harper on Christmas morning, but agrees to go along with the charade as Harper promises to come out to her family during the visit.
Things get complicated when Abby discovers that Harper’s dad Ted (Victor Garber) is running for mayor, and showcasing his high achieving and traditional family as the center of his campaign. Harper’s mom Tipper (Mary Steenburgen) is a perfectionist, especially when it comes to her home, holiday parties and photographing her family to create the ideal Instagram post. There’s an undercurrent of sibling rivalry between Harper and her sisters: Sloane (played by Alison Brie) a high powered lawyer turned stay-at-home mom; and Jane (played by Mary Holland) an aspiring fantasy fiction writer. The building tension between the sisters surfaces just in time for the family’s annual Christmas Eve extravaganza.
“The Happiest Season” is directed by actress Clea DuVall (known for her roles in “Veep” and the “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and co-written with Mary Holland, who plays Harper’s sister Jane. The film features a solid supporting cast including the hilarious Dan Levy (“Schitt's Creek”) as Abby’s best friend, Aubrey Plaza (“Ingrid Goes West”) as Harper’s former high-school girlfriend, and Saturday Night Live’s Ana Gasteyer as a political influencer backing Ted’s campaign.
Rated PG-13 and running 1 hour and 42 minutes, “The Happiest Season” is a gift of a film and definitely worth adding to your holiday watch list.
This is Linda Jager with the KPCW Friday Film Review.