Review by Dan Skip Allen
'Tis the season to be merry and watch Happiest Season, a new holiday-themed movie on Hulu. Of course, this is the time when all sorts of holiday movies are coming out, and the streaming services are getting into the game as well. Netflix has had some good ones over the last couple of years, but now Hulu is trying to compete with them with their own batch of films.
Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart) are a couple who have decided to go to Harper's family's home for Christmas. The problem comes in when Abby realizes that Harper's family doesn't know she's gay because she hasn't told them yet. This causes quite the drama for Abby during family events and parties. This film has quite the supporting cast of characters that make up the family of Davis's character, including Victor Garber and Mary Stienbergin as the parents, Alison Brie and Mary Holland as her sisters, and Aubrey Plaza as an ex-girlfriend.
Clea DuVall, primarily an actress, directs this funny holiday film. Her direction is good and includes quite a myriad of comedic moments. This film has a fish out of the water feeling to it most of the time. Stewart's character has quite a few awkward moments. One specifically involves her stealing a necklace. It was supposed to be funny but ended up feeling out-of-place.
This film doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy or a drama. Some characters are all in on the comedic moments and some are being straight. These don't mix very well. The secret has shown that the film can just be dramatic. It doesn't need the comedic stuff or the clichéd flamboyantly gay friend. The dramatic moments work and drive the film forward. That's the best part of the film. DuVall as the director and Mary Holland as the screenwriter needed to focus on one or the other, not both.
As a holiday movie, Happiest Season is okay — not great but also not bad. I've seen better in my days. The subject matter is very relevant to the times we live in today. DuVall and Holland probably needed a rewrite or town on the script and maybe a few characters needed to be cut from the story. It definitely has too much going on and takes away from the main story involving Davis and Stewart's characters. But for streaming, it's a fine holiday film.
Happiest Season is now streaming on Hulu.