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Happiest Season (2020)

Everybody’s story is different. There’s your version and my version, and everything in between.  Abby (Kristen Stewart) plans to propose to her live-in girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) while at Harper’s family home for the holiday. On the way to their annual Christmas party she discovers Harper hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents Tipper (Mary Steenburgen) and Ted (Victor Garber). Underachiever but dutiful sister Jane (Mary Holland) is Ted’s tech dogsbody while he’s running for mayor and every move the family makes has to be Instagrammed to make them look normal. Overachiever basic bitch Sloane (Alison Brie) turns up with her husband Eric (Burl Moseley) and two nauseating children who get Abby arrested for shoplifting at the mall. Abby meets Riley (Aubrey Plaza) who is Harper’s high school girlfriend and they quickly make friends as Abby tries to avoid embarrassing Harper in public. She contacts her best friend John (Dan Levy) for advice and he counsels her from a distance while she begins to crack under the pressure of not being part of Harper’s proper family, still living in their closet as Harper avoids coming out. Then John visits just as Ted is about to impress the local dignitaries at their annual party … Just because Harper isn’t ready doesn’t mean she never will be, and it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. Co-written by actress turned director Clea DuVall with Mary Holland, this is LGBTQ up the wazoo. We’re in a movie with a Mommie Dearest-type called Tipper so we’re probably nodding to the days of Parental Guidance on vinyl records. A smoothly run surprise-free but enthusiastic entertainment beautifully performed (by all but Davis, who looks very out of place in this ensemble) that was publicised as making gay inroads into festive films. But that was done years ago with the brilliant The Family Stone which is a very amusing well written equal opportunities offender, unlike this, which is really about undoing straight thinking. It’s no accident that the only person speaking common sense is Levy, the token camper; and the father who learns a lesson is gay in real life. The married sister has a black husband which is probably a far bigger issue in reality than the fact that they’re Ivy League law grads who sell hampers and live in an adulterous relationship. There’s more going on here than these family secrets in this clumsy Meet the Parents knock off. The big romcom reference structurally is My Best Friend’s Wedding but we never have the kind of release supplied by that classic although Levy is a breath of fresh air, clearly expressing the film’s true point of view. The earnest virtue-signalling screenplay never seems to explore the real elephant in the room leaving this feeling naggingly incomplete. Maybe it’s a lesbian thing. Ho ho ho hum.  I want you to break out of that closet!

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

2 responses to “Happiest Season (2020)

  1. Pingback: Member Reviews: “Happiest Season” – Online Association of Female Film Critics

  2. Pingback: Happiest Season: A Lot of Great Performances by Women ⋆

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