Irresponsible 20-something Jenny arrives in Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff, a young film-maker living a happy existence with his novelist wife Kelly and their two-year-old son. Jenny's arrival shakes up their quiet domesticity as she and her friend Carson instigate an evolution in Kelly's life and career. Meanwhile, Jenny strikes up a rocky relationship with the family's baby sitter-cum-pot dealer. Written by Production
June 26, 2014
Happy Christmas, is neither Happy or About Christmas…. Discuss.
In Happy Christmas Anna Kendrick plays Jenny a young twenty something who comes to stay with her brother for the holidays after a break up. The director Joe Swanberg casts himself as her brother Jeff. His wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) is reluctant to have Jenny stay with them and their infant son, knowing her “wild” behavior. Her first night there Jenny goes to a party with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham) and gets hammered drunk. So much to where she needs to be picked up and is unable to babysit like she promised the following day. Stepping in for the babysitting we meet Kevin, (Mark Webber) your friendly neighborhood babysitter, musician and small time pot dealer. Jenny and Kevin soon spark up a romance. Jenny then tries to repair her earlier wrongs with her sister in law, Kelly by helping her get back into writing and shaking off the doldrums of being a stay at home mom. Together with her friend Cason, the three girls try to collaborate on a trashy romance novel.
I always liked Drinking Buddies, the director Joe Swanberg’s previous film. If anything it was fun to see a little behind the scenes of a craft beer business and see Ron Livingston in an indie film. Happy Christmas is a disappointing follow up. The title is incidental, this is not a Christmas movie. Unless you like to watch unfunny, non-irreverent holiday family dysfunction. The film is very low budget, think early 90’s independent films. Grainy film stock and a ton of unfunny, what seems like ad-libbed dialogue. The director takes to the old indie film look like a hipster listening to vinyl records. Just to be pretentious. I appreciate independent film as much as the next guy, this just doesn’t have anything to be enthusiastic about. Lena Dunham tries to add her own bit of irreverence to this movie. But as each disappointingly unfunny new season of HBO’s Girls comes out, I am becoming increasingly aware that it was Judd Apatow’s influence in season one that gave it magic, not Lena. If you are fan crushing on Anna Kendrick or you are looking for a new Christmas classic, don’t bother. Anna Kendrick’s usual adorable charming spark is dulled to a faint glimmer like that of a tiny Christmas tree light on the saddest of Charlie Brown trees. Even for the minimal effort this film takes to watch on Netflix it isn’t worth the time.