Wednesday, December 6, 2023

'Tis The Season - Best. Christmas. Ever! (2023)

 
 
Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Best. Christmas. Ever! (2023)
Genre: Holiday, Romance, Comedy
Length:  1h 22min
Rating: TV-PG
Director: Mary Lambert
Writers: Todd Calgi Gallicano, Charles Shyer
Actors: Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood, Jason Biggs, Matt Cedeño, Wyatt Hunt, Abby Villasmil, Madison Skye Validum, Nadia Sine, Janet Lo, Camille Cadarette, Chase Ramsey
 
IMDb Blurb: Friendships are put to the ultimate test over a boastful holiday newsletter.
 
 
Selina’s Point of View:
Tis the season for cheesy movies. I need to get into the headspace for it, which is proving difficult this year. A Christmas magic rom-com should have been what I needed, but Best. Christmas. Ever! went a little too far past the campy line to make much of a positive difference to me.
 
I’m going to start with the good, though.
 
Brandy Norwood (Cinderella, Star, The Game) simply hasn’t aged. Not only that, but she was built for parts like these. Although cheesy, she puts enough heart into characters to make them feel worth watching. I’m also fond of Jason Biggs (Orange is the New Black, Loser, American Pie), I always have been. He has an ‘effortless’ quality to his acting that makes him perfect for family roles. I almost always instantly buy him as the dad, or husband, in any story. He feels normal. In a good way.
 
The beginning of the flick made sense and felt cute to me, as well, but it devolved from there.
 
 
All the rest of Best. Christmas. Ever! felt cringy – at best. The main character was absolutely obnoxious, and Heather Graham (Suitable Flesh, The Rest of Us, Boogie Nights) did nothing to help that first impression. There were scenes where she did things that felt so forced that I found myself actively making faces at the screen.
 
Then there was the ending.
 
For a moment, I thought they were taking an impressive route. Unfortunately, they left every thread of plot from that moment dangling. Even the short scene just before the credits didn’t close the holes they created. It wound up feeling ridiculous instead of magical.
 
There are better cheesy Christmas movies than Best. Christmas. Ever!
 
 
Cat’s Point of View:
The title of Best. Christmas. Ever! set a very high bar for expectations regarding this new Christmas movie offering. This is the time of year, after all, that we tend to get inundated with cheesy and saccharine movies full of the Spirit of the Season and magical romance experiences. We all know about the networks that shift to pretty much round-the-clock Christmas and holiday romance movies. There are so many within this genre out there that there’s no shortage to fill up their programming spots for the entire month and then some. Best. Christmas. Ever! felt like it could have been in the mix with that rotation – this one just came from Netflix instead of Hallmark.
 
I’m on the fence with how I feel about this movie.
 
On one hand, Best. Christmas. Ever! delivered what felt like a fresh concept with a holiday check-in letter becoming the catalyst for Christmas shenanigans. Rather than the typical meet-cute or crisis because something is in trouble and someone or the community needs to save whatever it is tropes. this film does offer something relatable that I can’t remember seeing before.
 
I love getting letters from friends and relatives around the holidays. I try to keep tabs on how everyone is doing via social media if not directly, but it’s that little personal touch of a letter in my hand that feels special that they took extra time to think about sending it to me that gives me warm fuzzies. Sometimes I can’t help but compare where my own life status is to the adventures and milestones shared. It’s human nature, I think. Best. Christmas. Ever! takes that sentiment and spins an elaborate ‘what if’ scenario for us.
 
 
It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, though. Perhaps there was too much cringe involved, or maybe the fact that the families on screen lived in this super-rich fantasy land. It was a feast for the eyes from a set-dressing standpoint, but it was hard to connect with the characters. Too much was going on at once, perhaps. I was even afraid this was about to turn into a swingers situation with these couples, but the rating helped me hold on to hope that it wouldn’t – and it thankfully didn’t. There were just some weird vibes going on.
 
For a movie about embracing and pushing through life not working out perfectly, there was too much of a glossy perfect sheen on everything. The message was there, but it was like someone gave me candy rather than a cough drop for a sore throat.
 
I’m afraid that I have to agree with most of the critical reviews that I’ve seen for Best. Christmas. Ever! which pretty much state that this movie works better as a TV holiday special rather than a feature film. Of course, if we consider Netflix as a non-traditional TV network, then that’s exactly what this was.
 
Best. Christmas. Ever! has its fun and heartwarming moments and wasn’t a total travesty, mind you. It just didn’t live up to the sales pitch its own title offered. Brandy Norwood’s voice remains spectacular, though, so having this playing in the background wouldn’t be a bad thing.
 
 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 42%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 19%
Metascore – 34%
Metacritic User Score – 1.8/10
IMDB Score – 4.3/10
 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
 
Movie Trailer:

 

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