Don’t be fooled by the pristine-looking image above (hell, it’s “new” so we thought we’d use it). “Happy Christmas” is not the feel-good family comedy of the year. Hell, it’s not very shiny, slick and happy like that image would suggest. “Happy Christmas” is really a lo-fi, down and dirty family dramedy by filmmaker Joe Swanberg.
The follow-up to his indie-success/arguably mainstream breakthrough “Drinking Buddies,” his latest feature stars Anna Kendrick (also in “Drinking Buddies”), Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, and Joe Swanberg himself. Here’s the official synopsis, but it’s basically a cross between family dysfunction and the arrested development man-child form ported over into a female protagonist who has yet to get her shit together.
When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something, moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director husband (Joe Swanberg) and their two-year-old son after a break up, the family’s idyllic life is shaken. Jenny begins a rocky relationship with their baby sitter-cum-pot dealer (Mark Webber), and she and a friend, Carson (Lena Dunham), bring Kelly to the realization that an evolution in her life, career and relationship is necessary for her happiness. A new comedy from the director of DRINKING BUDDIES.
We didn’t quite flip for it for it or think it was as successful as “Drinking Buddies” -- at least our review from Sundance didn’t, but we called it “largely engaging, truthful and affecting.”And you can feel the affection in that review for the parts and spirit of the movie that does work so we’d recommend nonetheless. And let's not forget Swanberg's precocious son Jude in the movie. Only two years old when he shot the film, we named Jude one of our 20 Breakout Actors, Directors & Talents To Watch From The 2014 Sundance Film Festival. No joke.
On iTunes early on June 26th, the movie opens up in theaters on July 25th.