Review: the Happiest Season

What, a movie review? What?

(Before I get into this, I’m a middle class white cishet guy. And while I know and love a lot of LGBTQ people, I am not myself part of that community. I’m just an ally, one who wants to see more, good representation of my LGBTQ neighbors.)

That said, here we go.

The wife and I watched a Christmas movie this year, as is tradition, and it was Happiest Season, which was rarely happy but very seasonal!

Basically, it’s a slightly watchable Hallmark movie with gay people, and that’s fine.

Aren’t they cute? Oh, it’s gonna get rough from here, though

The first of two narrative problems is that it’s based on the whole “we don’t talk to each other and thus don’t find obvious solutions to our problems”—that’s a pretty common trope and how a lot of stories mine dramedy. It skirts the line of cringe humor, though it’s a lot less ridiculous than what you’d see in an Adam Sandler movie.

The queer content (mostly lesbians but some other representation as wel) is honestly the best part of the movie. It’s a relief from the stifling dysfunction based on heteronormative deception, and honestly, perhaps that’s the main redeeming factor of this film.

(Seriously, it borders on the edge of Get Out at times.)

LGBTQ people have struggles, and maybe seeing them on the screen will convince a few straight people who’ve never (knowingly) met a real-life LGBTQ person to give it some more thought. Which is good.

Also, Kristen Stewart does a great job with the material she’s given, as does Aubrey Plaza (of course), and they are just utterly adorable.

See what I mean? Also, how is anyone confused about Abby (right) is waaaay into ladies?

As for the movie itself, I want to say it was cute and inoffensive, but… well, there was plenty to object to there. Some of it is extremely silly and some of it might be quite traumatic. (Especially how cruel Harper is to Abby and to Riley, who really should have ditched her and got together, see the Den of Geek review, below.) Though some of it is indeed uplifting, and it ends on a high note.

Its high point—the sapphic perfection of Kristen Stewart, who is just amazing—is also key to the second main narrative problem, which is that she has much better chemistry with the inestimable Aubrey Plaza… but perhaps that’s part of the point. Her character has options that are easier and more comfortable, and it makes it clear that love and relationships are a lot of work. And this particular one exceeds her limits on more than one occasion.

Shoutouts to Victor Garber and Alison Brie, of course, who are both pretty solid in their supporting roles.

Ultimately, it’s a movie. If you like it, great. If not, that’s cool.

Two wreaths out of five.

A genuinely happy photo that the movie sort of earns

Further reading:

Den of Geek review

Roger Ebert review