Happiest Season follows Abby (Kristen Stewart) as she is invited to her girlfriend’s, Harper (Mackenzie Davis), house to Christmas. The problem is that Harper has not come out to her family yet, so both she and Abby must pretend to not be together.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s Christmas movie time, and Happiest Season may prove to be a holiday film worthy enough to became an eventual classic. It’s a warm albeit formulaic film, with plenty of laughs and some incredibly touching moments that made me teary-eyed.
Though the film is lighthearted for the most part, fears and insecurities are explored as Harper continually hides herself from her family, afraid they may reject her, while Abby is sidelined and frustrated she also can’t authentically be herself or with someone she loves.
I was honestly was taken aback about how Harper treated her girlfriend in front of her family and friends. She doesn’t really make an effort to spend any time with her. Abby, righteously, feels awkward and that she doesn’t belong. It wasn’t until we got to the third act, that I understood more of where Harper was coming from. The film mostly follows Stewart’s Abby, so I just felt Harper’s behavior would have been better explained if she were more fleshed out before the meet the parents moment happened.
I must give kudos to director, Clea DuVall, though for making this romcom centered around a lesbian couple. There’s still a major shortage of mainstream LGBT+ romcoms and this is the first Christmas one that I’ve seen. DuVall makes sure that coming out is treated with respect and highlights the importance of waiting until you are ready to do so. Harper’s family is intense to say the least, and they are all focused on furthering their dad’s political career.
The cast is star studded and did an incredibly well job. Stewart is relatable and charming, Davis is good too, but isn’t given much character depth to work with. Dan Levy (of Schitt’s Creek fame) and Aubrey Plaza are both scene stealers when they appear. Mary Holland, who plays Harper’s sister, Jane, was also a standout and provided most of the laughs. Alison Brie plays another one of Harper’s sisters, who she is very competitive with. And rounding out the cast is Victor Garber as Harper’s dad and Mary Steenburgen as Harper’s mother.
Overall, Happiest Season is a charming film with solid performances. It’s a film I can see myself re-watching during the holiday season, but didn’t feature that strong central couple aspect I was hoping for. My only major negative is regarding Harper’s character, who I feel just isn’t well-rounded enough. I know that I was secretly rooting for Plaza and Stewart’s characters to get together instead. But I still enjoyed myself nonetheless and am glad that we ultimately got a happy ending.
I give Happiest Season a B.