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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Happiest Season (M) - 102 minutes

Christmas cheer is not all it’s cracked up to be for one “happy” couple.

Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) live together and are in love.

It is the holiday season and during a night visiting suburban homes festooned with lights, Harper invites Abby to share the festivities at her parents’ place.

Abby hasn’t been much for the ho, ho, ho since she lost her parents when she was 19 … and that’s a decade back.

Still, she thinks it’s a positive step forward and agrees to five days away with the woman who she wants to spend the rest of her life with.

She’s even gone out a purchased a sparkling solitaire diamond ring for her lady love.

Trouble is, although Harper originally told Abby her parents knew about their relationship, the truth is she hasn’t told them and now she wants to pass Abby off as her roommate.

Harper’s dad, Ted (Victor Garner), is strait-laced and it wouldn’t fit into his idyll of a perfect family, especially now as the city councillor is standing to become Mayor.

But that is not the only surprise in store for Abby.

Harper’s mum, Tipper (Mary Steenburgen), is all about staging the perfect Christmas and that involves inviting Harper’s ex-boyfriend Connor (Jake McDorman) and secret girlfriend, Riley (Aubrey Plaza).

Abby also gets to see a competitive side of Harper she hadn’t seen before.

That manifests itself with her married sister, Sloane (Alison Brie), with the pair constantly at loggerheads.

And one shouldn’t overlook Harper’s other well-meaning, but overexuberant sister, Jane (Mary Holland).

The revelations just keep coming and let’s just say Abby is in for a hell of a few days.

In her corner is her gay mate John (Daniel Levy), who she has tasked with looking after her pets while she is away.

He, too, will be tested.

Exaggerated characterisations abound in this fun rom com, which gave me a few chuckles.

Although largely predictable fare, Happiest Season features a number of strong performances.

Stewart comes across as natural and sincere in the lead role and Levy nails the part of the effeminate and empathetic friend.

Holland is in your face as the awkward sister and Plaza is suitably wistful as the all-knowing former girlfriend.

The script by Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, corny and syrupy though it may be in parts, is underpinned by a couple of profound and important issues.

DuVall displays a deft touch as director, ensuring all story threads are given a suitable airing.

The material has a decidedly female skew and is perhaps the vehicle for a girls’ night out.

Happiest Season has charm and pep and scores a 7 out of 10.


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