Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy Christmas (2014)

Number Rolled: 42
Movie Name/Year: Happy Christmas (2014)
Tagline: Family is the gift that keeps on taking.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Lucky Coffee Productions
Producer: Tom Aries, Matthew Eggers, Tara Eggers, Tom Eggers, Shelley Fox, Peter Gilbert, Janice Harris, Yra Harris, Breea Klong, Michael Klong, Eddie Linker, Susie Linker, Jeanne McInereney, Karen McKeon, Hartley Meyer, Laura Mizrahi, Theresa Snyder, Joe Swanberg, C.T. Terry, Alicia Van Couvering
Director: Joe Swanberg
Writer: Joe Swanberg
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: After splitting up with her boyfriend just before the holidays, a young woman tries to start over, but her self-destructive behavior gets in the way.

Selina’s Point of View:
Sitting through this film was torture. Not only was it painfully boring and poorly shot, but I fucking HATE Lena Dunham. I just hate her. I viscerally hate her. Even my absolute love for Anna Kendrick couldn’t overshadow it.

Normally, no matter how bad a movie is, when it’s over I feel good. Either because I get to write about it, or because I accomplished the task of removing a film from my list, or because there was something awesome about it.

I don’t feel good.

In fact, I hate Lena Dunham so much that I don’t think I could accurately judge the content of this film, no matter how hard I try. So I’m going to abstain. You’ll have to look to Cat for her opinion.

I wish Anna Kendrick wasn’t a part of this project. I really do. If she wasn’t, I might have noticed Dunham was in it and kept it off both our “Top Movies to Look Out For” list and our queue.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m a bit torn about this movie.

Part of the quandary I find myself in is due to expectation vs. reality. When we rolled this movie it felt like a bit of a lark because the holiday had just passed. We might have had a technical “Christmas movie” just before, but not anything that screamed ‘tis the season’ at you. I expected something like that, going in.

That’s not what this movie is. Once more, the holiday is landscape here rather than an active participant in what’s going on; with minor exceptions.

I’m going to be honest. I was bored to tears. Straight drama like this doesn’t usually do it for me. This wasn’t even an emotional rollercoaster drama (for which I am thankful). I distinctly remember that there was a point in the movie where I was thinking, “ugh how much longer is this?” and moused over the progress bar, only to see that I had 40 minutes left.

That being said, even though I was bored – the movie wasn’t bad. I wasn’t rolling my eyes or praying for it to end – I just wasn’t into it.

I liked the fact that the couple wasn’t “perfect” and their dynamic was wonderful. I actually loved the way they interacted and handled things. It felt real and far less staged than the melodrama one usually finds on the screen. I absolutely adored their interaction with the little boy. I think that little guy stole the movie for me, really.

Anna Kendrick (Into The Woods, The Hollars, Trolls) and Melanie Lynskey (Flags of Our Fathers, Win Win, Rainbow Time) are also actresses that I really enjoy. It was an interesting turn to see Kendrick in this sort of role; but let me tell you…Lynskey absolutely slayed her part. I got a kick out of the fact she used her native New Zealand accent, as well.

Joe Swanberg (Cats and Trees, V/H/S, Joshy) wore quite a few hats with this film as writer, director, producer, and male lead. He’s also little Jude’s real dad. Looking through his filmography, I was reminded where I’ve seen him before. I would have to say I like this a hell of a lot more than his offering in that horror anthology. It’s really apples and oranges, though.

Not only was the baby actually his child, but the film was shot in his actual house. I think that’s pretty cool. On top of that, the dialogue here was largely improvised. When I first read that after watching the movie, I was skeptical. I did some digging and found some interviews with Lynskey and Swanberg which confirmed it. It seems that this was one of those kismet moments of the right concept finding the right actors and crew. It didn’t feel improvised and had a good flow to it.

While this movie wasn’t the most entertaining for me, I have a hell of a lot more respect for it in retrospect after learning some of these details. Sadly, my score for the film is based on my enjoyment of the movie and not what I feel its overall ‘quality’ is.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – Who cares?/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice ScoreNot even fucking worth it./5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

P.S. There’s some dialog near the end of the credits, and a long scene after the credits are over. It’s more like an extended scene.

Movie Trailer:

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