Review by Camden Ferrell
Christmas is many Americans favorite holiday, and Apple TV+ has a documentary about one extreme Christmas fanatic. ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas is the second directorial effort from Becky Read. However, this film’s subject is radically different than her previous work. While this documentary has a wacky premise, it doesn’t have much substance, and it suffers significantly from wavering in its direction and execution.
Jeremy Morris is a lawyer in Northern Idaho, and like many people, he enjoys Christmas and decorating his home. Unlike most people, his decorations are beyond extravagant, featuring countless lights, choirs, and even a camel, becoming a community spectacle or eye sore depending on who you ask. However, his plans to inspire Christmas cheer are met with a notice that his event violates rules according to the HOA. From here, we see Morris do everything in his power to keep his lights on. In and of itself, this premise is interesting, and it has the benefit of exploring the legalese behind a conflict such as this.
Despite having a great set up, the retelling of events leaves a lot to be desired. It does a decent job of giving the audience context, but it lacks originality, and it’s not as captivating as it could have been. The film also has an overreliance on talking heads. While they’re effective means of storytelling, this film used it as a crutch when it’s B-roll couldn’t do the job.
One of the main problems with the film is that it remains sporadically ambiguous on its opinions on Morris. This gets especially muddled when he starts arguing that he is suffering religious discrimination. It’s ridiculous, but it’s hard to tell whether the filmmakers are in agreement or are making fun of his actions. I imagine audiences might be split on their opinions of the subject, and it doesn’t help that the film can’t seem to make up its mind on the matter.
Many parts of this film feels so inflated, that it comes off like a fearmongering Fox News segment, and it undermines the true story at its core. While I admit the premise has an innate factor of intrigue, it’s a shame to see how the film doesn’t make the most of its opportunity. Love him or hate him, Morris has charisma, and it’s disappointing to see how the film doesn’t amount to much when there are some good things working in its favor.
‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas might be interesting to some audiences who want to see a silly battle between a Christmas-obsessed resident and the HOA. Unfortunately, some may also find its execution to be generic and uninspired throughout.
‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas is streaming on Apple TV+ November 26.
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