Happiest Season (2020)
“Happiest Season” stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen. Released on Hulu on November 25, 2020, the film is about a young woman who discovers that her girlfriend hasn’t come out to her parents.
The film is directed by Clea DuVall, who also directed “The Intervention” and starred in films like “The Faculty”, “She’s All That”, and “Identity”. There’s nothing like spending the holidays with the ones you love, including your friends, your family, and even your boyfriends or girlfriends, especially the latter. Here’s hoping that they know you have one. Similar to “Run”, this film was purchased by Hulu after its theatrical release was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It looks like the streaming service is really stepping up their game this year after allowing the likes of Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max to have some fun with this strategy. I was speculating on whether or not I should talk about this film because even though it has a good cast, I usually don’t have a strong interest in romance films, let alone romantic comedies. After seeing that it’s been getting some very good reviews, I finally decided to see what all the hubbub was about. Sorry it took me this long to get to it. With that said, let’s go pay this family a visit.
The story follows Abby Holland (Stewart) and Harper Caldwell (Davis), a lesbian couple who are living in Pittsburgh together and have been dating for nearly a year. One day, Harper invites Abby to spend the holidays with her family in her hometown, even though Abby hasn’t been celebrating Christmas since her parents passed away. During the trip, Harper told Abby that she hasn’t revealed her sexuality to her parents yet as she fears that it will jeopardize her father’s (Garber) run for mayor. She persuaded Abby to pretend to be her straight roommate until she can tell them after Christmas. As Harper spends some time with her friends and family, Abby begins to question whether or not their relationship will survive because of the amount of secrets that she’s hiding from her. Like “Hillbilly Elegy”, which I reviewed yesterday, this is another film that deals with family, but unlike that film, this one appears to be more light-hearted and comedic, which is good because I don’t think I can handle another idiotic family. It is also a film that puts a lesbian couple front and center, which is seen in plenty of small films before. This is something that I personally support in films and television shows because it represents the fact that love has no boundaries. It might be awkward seeing two people from the same sex sharing their love with each other, but it’s also something that people should respect. We have enough hate for one day. Anyway, the film has a straightforward plot with plenty of romantic-comedy elements that most viewers can see coming a mile away, which is unsurprisingly unavoidable at the time, but to me, all that matters the most is the execution, which I thought was pretty good. It’s not going to win any big awards or anything like that, but if there is one for “most heartwarming holiday film of 2020”, it should go to this film hands down. Not only was it an enjoyable and well-directed rom-com from start to finish, but it also showcased the LGBT representation in the most respectable and honest way possible. The film was supposed to be inspired by Clea DuVall’s own experience with her family, so I’m guessing that she made this story as a way of telling people to not be afraid of staying true to one’s self. If that’s the case, then I thought she did a really good job at delivering this message. Another thing that I thought was enjoyable was the cast. Kristen Stewart delivered yet another likable performance as Abby, thus continuing her well-deserved success outside of her “Twilight” franchise. Mackenzie Davis also did a really nice job with her performance as Harper, and her chemistry with Stewart was exactly what I expected it to be: endearing, bright, and sentimental. DuVall’s script worked very well as it managed to blend the comedy with the romance elements and its heartwarming tone. There was this one joke in the film that was a bit too far-fetched in my eyes, but other than that, the humor did its part in making me laugh and distancing itself from being too silly. Most of that is due to Mary Holland as Jane, one of Harper’s sisters, and Dan Levy as John, Abby’s best friend. I was a bit concerned that either one of these two might ruin its tone with their personalities, but thankfully DuVall was able to make them and their humor just as appealing as a Christmas tree.
Overall, “Happiest Season” is a joyful, yet familiar, rom-com that should put everyone in a holiday mood this year. While not as emotionally compelling as the other LGBT-related film “Love, Simon”, the film has enough Christmas spirit to compensate. Thanks to its solid cast, DuVall’s respectable direction, and its heartfelt screenplay, this is a worthy addition to the holiday binge-watching list. Sometimes it’s nice to have films that make us feel good inside, especially with everything that’s still going on right now, and I’m happy to say that “Happiest Season” is one of them. It’s worth checking out on Hulu if you’re a fan of romantic comedies.
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