Film Review: Happy Christmas (2014)

Do you ever watch one of those movies that deals with a person that’s down on their luck and makes bad life decisions? Happy Christmas is one of those.

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The story involves Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a no so responsible 27-year-old who has recently broken up with her boyfriend. With many options and lacking direction, she arrives in Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff (Joe Swanberg, who also wrote and directed the film).

Life Choices: Passing out on a stranger's floor

Life Choices: Passing out on a stranger’s floor

Jeff makes and produces films for a living. He lives a relatively happy with his novelist wife, Kelly, and their two-year-old son. Once Jenny arrives, things start to get a bit hectic. Her first night of living at the house, Jenny goes to a party to meet up with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham). Getting a little to festive, she gets smokes pot, drinks and ends up passing out in a bedroom, requiring Jeff to come pick her up.

After the passing out incident, jenny starts to form a bond with Kelly at the house. She notices that Kelly feels overwhelmed and wants time to write her novel. Trying to get her creative juices up and flowing, Jenny suggests an idea for a book that Kelly can write. Throughout the days, free-spirited Jenny and Carson get Kelly to open up, prompting a evolution of relaxation in Kelly.

At a quick glance, many will wonder why the heck a “christmas” movie is being released in June/July. Despite its title, Happy Christmas features very little of actual Christmas. The Christmas theme is meant as an accessible way to bring family together and show their interactions. A quick Christmas day scene is all that is featured in the 78 minute movie.

Director-writer Joe Swanberg is known for having his films center on the ordinary, daily interactions of a group of people. Happy Christmas features fully improvised dialogue. No set script was used for the film. The actors received outlines for each scene.

Life Choices 2: Smoking pot

Life Choices 2: Spending hours mindlessly surfing the internet

Happy Christmas is a “slice-of-life” type film. The film appeals to the viewer that likes movies heavy with improvisation, realism, and the scenes with the interactions of everyday life. Despite its slow pacing and lack of clear resolution, Happy Christmas goes above with witty dialogue, quotable lines and examining the nature of family dynamics. Happy Christmas might even give new meaning to the term “Christmas in July.” A

Happy Christmas is currently on video on demand platforms (Amazon, iTunes and others) and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on July 25, 2014.

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