Review by Sean Boelman
It’s December, and that means Christmas movies are a dime a dozen. Christmas With the Campbells promises to be something different — a raunchy holiday comedy that still feels entirely wholesome and not too mean-spirited — but, unfortunately, it lacks the writing or direction to make it work.
The film follows a woman who, having recently broken up with her longtime boyfriend, decides to nonetheless spend the Christmas holiday with his family, creating an awkward situation for all of them. It’s a premise that naturally sets itself up for wacky hijinks, but the suspension of disbelief it takes to believe anyone would actually do this in real life is off-putting.
There is a ton of raunchy, R-rated humor throughout the movie, and this is the only thing that sets it apart from your average Christmas rom-com. With Vince Vaughn producing and co-writing the film, one would think that this could have been hilarious, but the jokes are so juvenile that it comes across as idiotic.
In a way, the movie could have been better had it went all-out with the satire. It’s clear there is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek tone here — it’s meant to be a raunchier version of a Hallmark movie — but it’s not forceful enough with it to be an all-out satire. We’re left with a film that almost takes itself too seriously for its own good.
It definitely would have helped had the characters not all been insufferable assholes for most of the runtime. We definitely feel bad for the protagonist because of the situation she’s in, but the premise is so far-fetched that it’s near impossible to get invested in the story. The entirety of the supporting cast tends to be selfish, even the ones that are meant to be charming.
Brittany Snow is trying her darndest to do an impersonation of a Hallmark movie star in this movie, and while she fits the bill — an actress who, while still young, is still riding the high of her popular role from her youth (in this case, Pitch Perfect). Alex Moffatt of SNL fame plays her jerk ex, and is just as annoying as you’d expect.
Then there is Justin Long, who plays the protagonist’s new love interest, and it’s casting that is… interesting, to say the least. While he’s certainly charming enough to pull the role off, the script apparently calls for him to do some sort of inexplicable hybrid of a midwestern and southern accent, and it’s rather embarrassing.
Christmas With the Campbells is a simply unpleasant film, from its premise to its largely unfunny humor. While it had the potential to be a fun, R-rated satire of a generally wholesome genre, it doesn’t deliver much in terms of laughs or heart.
Christmas With the Campbells hits theaters and AMC+ on December 2.