To me, the Christmas season is the best time of the year. Between visiting family and friends, it gives you a sense of unity and togetherness. I love the overall feeling of joy that surrounds the holiday.

But while I enjoy this time of year, I understand that there are many people that find it hard to get through. The stress of shopping and family can be so overwhelming to the point where it’s too much. “Happy Christmas” shows this aspect in a very natural way.

After a recent break-up, Jenny [Anna Kendrick] moves to Chicago to live with her brother Jeff [Joe Swanberg] and his wife Kelly [Melanie Lynskey].

They welcome Jenny into their home with open arms. Unfortunately, on her first night, she doesn’t make a good impression.

To make up for her drunken night, Jenny tries to connect with Kelly on a personal level and develop a friendship. But in the end, does it matter or will she end up going back to her old ways?

Sean Crater / Webmaster

Sean Crater / Webmaster

For the most part, “Happy Christmas” was a charming little film. Although, it wasn’t all that memorable.

The synopsis above represents some of the character development rather than an actual plot. Most of the film is very loose, with no real narrative to guide it along. Instead, most of the scenes revolve around improvised conversations.

This makes it sound like it’s coming from the heart, instead of a script. Sometimes that’s a good and a bad thing. In the category of positives, Joe Swanberg’s baby is perhaps the funniest person in the entire film.

Baby Jude looks at the world and does whatever makes him happy. Joe Swanberg and Melanie Lynskey also built a great relationship. Together, they’re both very innocent and it’s easy to see why they love each other.

I have nothing against Anna Kendrick, but some of her monologues weren’t all that interesting. She’s not bad, but leaves more to be desired with her character.

Although, I did appreciate how there was some subtlety to her actions. She doesn’t flat out say it, but she wants somebody to hold onto, yet she’s missing what’s right in front of her.

On a lighter note, “Happy Christmas” was shot on Super 16 mm film. Every scene is only enhanced by the grain that engulfs the screen.

It fits well with the 70s look of the production itself. When you see Joe Swanberg’s real basement, you’ll want to live there yourself. Going down there makes you feel like you have just stepped into a time capsule.

Honestly, from here, I can’t tell you that much more without ruining everything. The runtime clocks out at about eighty-two minutes and it moves quickly.

While I wish I could have used a bit more humor, there was enough to keep me interested. “Happy Christmas” is a film that has some lulls throughout, but has enough charm to warrant a recommendation.

Rating: B-

Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at

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