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Not so ‘Happy Christmas’

| Thursday, December 4, 2014

happy-christmas-WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer
Are you experiencing stop-action motion sickness? Is your heart growing two sizes too small for “The Grinch?” Are you ready to throw yourself under “The Polar Express?”

I know I am, which is why I rejoiced when I saw “Happy Christmas,” a 2014 Christmas film starring Lena Dunham and Anna Kendrick, on Netflix.

The film, released this summer, stars my two favorite Twitter heroes/It Girls/hysterical Hollywood stars. As such, I had high expectations for this holiday film: “Girls” situational irony fused with family holiday parties plus ”Pitch Perfect”-caliber caroling seemed like a holiday recipe to beat peppermint bark. Pretty much I was expecting what Sufjan Stevens has done with Christmas music: a sophisticated, indie twist on an overdone genre. However, the 2.6 stars on Netflix should have been a warning that this holiday film would not make the nice list.

First off, this film is advertised as a holiday movie — it is titled “Happy Christmas” — so you would assume holiday parties, a little Christmas music and some holiday cheer, right? Nope. There were maybe three gifts exchanged and no Bing Crosby or sleigh bells to be heard.

It is a lousy marketing scheme. Since December is the month everyone devours Mariah Carey ballads and any films with reindeer like they’re free candy canes, this movie tries to slip under the Christmas genre and suck in anyone who listens to Spotify’s “Folksy Christmas” list and scours Netfllix for “alternative” Christmas movies — aka me.

However, taken as just an indie movie — it was released in July— it had its moments.

Carson (played by Dunham) delivers as the sassy, attentive best friend who offers questionable advice and great one-liners — so basically Dunham did a great job playing herself.

Jenny (played by Kendrick), is an insecure 27 year old living with her brother and his wife and baby after a bad break-up. She is an irresponsible, selfish and rather mousy character that it is hard to sympathize with — just wait until you get to the scene the Christmas Eve scene (of course, you won’t know it was the night before Christmas until the next morning because Christmas is not a central topic in “Happy Christmas”).

A character that is easy to sympathize with is Kelly (played by Lynskey). Jenny’s brother’s wife and mother to adorable baby Jude, she is fed up by wearing “pajama tops with spit-up on them all day” and having no time to write her novel, but is too polite and kind to ever complain.

As Carson, in classic Dunham/Horvath-style, says, “She’s so pretty in that way that’s, ‘Oh, I didn’t have time to take a shower. Oh, I didn’t have time to do anything. I’m just mommin’ it up’ and she’s so beautiful.”

Carson and Jenny take unassuming Kelly under their wing and try to help her find time to do things she wants to do, starting by convincing her to write an erotic novel for fast cash. Kelly starts to like Jenny, an unexpected turn after nearly kicking her out of the house the first night. I never felt this inclination, however, as Jenny remained selfish and unstable pretty consistently throughout the film.

This movie is a mediocre indie film that falls below mediocre when watched as an indie Christmas film. You will not feel any happier this Christmas by watching “Happy Christmas.”

Sorry to be a Scrooge, but that he at least he has remorse for his unsavory past actions — the same can’t be said for Jenny.

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About Erin McAuliffe

I'm Scene's editor and a senior Marketing & Journalism student. To quote the exquisite Sadie Dupuis, "I'm not bossy — I'm the boss."

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