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Reviews & Ratings for
Happy Christmas More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

You will love or hate it.

Author: T1 Brit from France
29 June 2014

OK it's mumblecore. You knew that before you hit the pay button. What did you expect? There is no script. It is actors improvising trying to be natural and create real drama out of pure inspiration. It's an interesting idea at least, especially for actors I imagine. You are not going to get bloody Shakespeare are you. But what you do get is a real sense of being present in the lives of the people involved. I feel like I know Joe Swanberg, or the gorgeous wife, or Lena Dunham... but most of all, and praise be to Jesus, it's like I know Anna Kendrick. She gives a superb performance of a very funny dysfunctional character with some very funny scenes and for me it was worth it just to watch her. The baby is hilarious too. It's about as entertaining as watching a real family fight going on if you are just a spectator. But hey, sometimes that is a lot of fun.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Dull, depressing and pointless.

Author: estronbase from Netherlands
2 April 2015

This is a film I would like to forget, a complete waste of time. The only entertainment I found in this came from watching the performance of the little boy, Jude Swanberg, who was very cute and amusing.

Also, while I was trying to keep track of the number of times Lena Dunham was using the word "like", Anna Kendrick started trying to outdo her. I just stopped counting. I was like, is she like making like fun of her like, or like just like unconsciously like copying her like way of like talking?

I saw an old interview with Lena Dunham and she really did talk that way all the time.

I've just checked out a more recent interview, and she seems cured now, thank goodness.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Sometimes a Great Notion

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
27 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joe Swanberg directs "Happy Christmas". Like most of his previous features, the film is heavily improvised and only loosely scripted.

The plot? Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, a cute but irresponsible young woman who spends a few days hanging out with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), the wife of her older brother. Kelly's a serious, pragmatic and focused woman, whose life has been forged by the responsibilities of being a wife, mother and writer. Jenny, in contrast, is lackadaisical and directionless. The duo's contrasting personalities lead to several low-key clashes.

"Happy Christmas" climaxes with Jenny helping Kelly write an erotic-novel. Here, female sexuality, fantasy and the possibility of transgression, "liberate" Kelly from her perceived obligations. By the film's end, the soft-spoken Kelly and the reckless Jenny reach a point of mutual appreciation. Enlivening this straightforward narrative arc is some fine, raw, naturalistic acting. The film co-stars Lena Dunham. Swanberg's own three-year-old son steals the show, though; one of the best "baby acting" roles of all time, he out-cutes a cast full of cuties.

7.9/10 - Worth one viewing.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Swanberg's Latest Not My Cup of Tea

Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
12 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joe Swanberg who wrote, directed and played one of the leading roles in this his latest film is known for his improvisational independent films. Although I liked, as other reviewers have noted his recent movie "Drinking Buddies", I felt this film's improvisations failed in that the dialogue was too stilted, awkward, and filled with what appeared to be inside jokes that the cast would laugh at, ignoring basically the viewers that were watching. Thus the whole thing just got more and more annoying for me as it progressed.

The plot centers on the loving couple of Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff Spelling (Swanberg) and their adorable son Jude welcoming to their home, in Chicago around Christmas time, Jeff's sister Jenny (Anna Kendrick), after she just broke up with her boyfriend. Once Jenny enters the scene, they'll be a lot of scenes involving pot smoking, drinking, sex, and explicit sex talk. They'll be other plot elements involving Jenny's irresponsibility and her attempts along with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham) to convince Kelly to devote more time to her writing and to get help with the raising of her son.

All in all, as mentioned, I just felt the improvisational approach here just didn't work, and the movie ended up having little entertainment value for me.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Family Fallout at Festivus

Author: tigerfish50 from Old London, New England
18 October 2014

The low-key plot of Joe Swanberg's latest film is set in motion when a young woman breaks up with her boyfriend, and moves in with her brother, his wife and their toddler son. On Jenny's first night under Jeff and Kelly's roof, she displays her irresponsible tendencies when she goes to a party and gets seriously wasted, requiring her brother to be roused from his sleep to drive her home. Contrite over this bad beginning, Jenny suggests productive ways for Kelly to balance her creative impulses with the duties of motherhood. Unfortunately the dysfunctional behavior also persists, causing friction within the household which leads to more disruptions and minor confrontations.

'Happy Christmas' extends Swanberg's move away from the ultra-basic conventions of the 'mumblecore' school, but it's still a resolutely Indie production. The film's events are depicted with subtle humor as it focuses primarily on Jenny, and her relationship with her sister-in-law. Anna Kendrick portrays the feckless Jenny as charming, vulnerable, selfish and manipulative, while the support cast back her up with nice performances. Kendrick's nuanced character study is echoed by the story's understated resolution.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A straight forward mumblecore comedy drama, but that's not a bad thing

Author: MovieLord23 from San Antonio
23 November 2014

Mumblecore is a weird thing to review sometimes. Mumblecore is generally about everyday situations with little much elevating it from the mundane and it can either be charming and engaging or just dull. Joe Swanberg thankfully provides an engaging little tale with a solid cast that while it doesn't necessarily do much in terms of plot, it just provides for a good dose of down to Earth charm.

Good: The cast is really good here from Melanie Lynskey who constantly shows how underrated of a performer she is to the always reliable and cute Anna Kendrick and Swanberg himself giving some the film some laughs as well. The plot is straight forward, but that's the charm of this movie. It is simple, but yet tackles many ideas regarding family, when to pursue dreams or realistic goals, and taking on responsibility.

Bad: I will say that if you want a movie with more meat to it, then this movie probably isn't the right choice.

Overall, yeah it's mumblecore to a tee and it is very much a movie about everyday occurrences, but it is done with enough laughs, charm, and solid performances that it overcomes the basic format it has.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Happy Christmas, is neither Happy or About Christmas.... Discuss.

Author: Matt Wyatt ( from United States
12 December 2014

In Happy Christmas Anna Kendrick plays Jenny a young twenty something who comes to stay with her brother for the holidays after a break up. The director Joe Swanberg casts himself as her brother Jeff. His wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) is reluctant to have Jenny stay with them and their infant son, knowing her "wild" behavior. Her first night there Jenny goes to a party with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham) and gets hammered drunk. So much to where she needs to be picked up and is unable to babysit like she promised the following day. Stepping in for the babysitting we meet Kevin, (Mark Webber) your friendly neighborhood babysitter, musician and small time pot dealer. Jenny and Kevin soon spark up a romance. Jenny then tries to repair her earlier wrongs with her sister in law, Kelly by helping her get back into writing and shaking off the doldrums of being a stay at home mom. Together with her friend Cason, the three girls try to collaborate on a trashy romance novel.

I liked Drinking Buddies, the director Joe Swanberg's previous film. If anything it was fun to see a little behind the scenes of a craft beer business and see Ron Livingston in an indie film. Happy Christmas is a disappointing follow up. The title is incidental, this is not a Christmas movie. Unless you like to watch unfunny, non-irreverent holiday family dysfunction. The film is very low budget, think early 90's independent films. Grainy film stock and a ton of unfunny, what seems like ad-libbed dialog. The director takes to the old indie film look like a hipster listening to vinyl records. Just to be pretentious. I appreciate independent film as much as the next guy, this just doesn't have anything to be enthusiastic about. Lena Dunham tries to add her own bit of irreverence to this movie. But as each disappointingly unfunny new season of HBO's Girls comes out, I am becoming increasingly aware that it was Judd Apatow's influence in season one that gave it good, not Lena. If you are fan crushing on Anna Kendrick or you are looking for a new Christmas classic, don't bother. Anna Kendrick's usual adorable charming spark is dulled to a faint glimmer like that of a tiny Christmas tree light on the saddest of Charlie Brown trees. Even for the minimal effort this film takes to watch on Netflix it isn't worth the time.

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Isn't a bad one, but some not so good stuff got into the final cut...

Author: Allguns Allguns
3 January 2016

The proposal of Happy Christmas is crystal clear: show some kind of real interaction between people/characters... Minimum script, minimum direction... Maximum improv.

That said, I need to say that I liked most of what I saw... The six actors (including the baby Swanberg) gave good performances doing their own thing together... It was nice to see Melanie Lynskey in a more dramatic role... As it is always delightful to watch Anna Kendrick... And even Joe Swanberg pleased me while in scene...

The story is pretty good and the movie delivered what it has promised... BUT... I do think it is a weaker movie than his predecessor Drinking Buddies and his successor Digging For Fire... And that happens mostly 'cause a couple scenes weren't the best they got... A couple scenes felt forced, artificial, inorganic, when the whole point of the movie is to be the most organic possible...

They meant well, did fine, but could have done an amazingly better work with a couple more hours in the editing room...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Drink every time Anna Kendrick says "like"....

Author: loadfiltz from United States
18 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Crappy movie but great drinking game = drink every time Anna Kendrick says "LIKE"!!! "I was like..." "She was like...." "He was like...." "We were like..." Totally horrible dialogue in a boring movie. It's like viewing other people's boring life but it just happens to be during Christmas. She's irresponsible and the brother's an enabler. That's the movie. I'm not sure why some critics liked this movie? Maybe they had seen too many good movies and this was different just because it was bad. I'm not anti Anna Kendrick, I just think she played a part in a bad movie. So to some degree, she is responsible for this flick. There are a ton of better Christmas movies to spend your time watching so disregard this on.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Waiting for divine intervention in their inspiration

Author: Florin Gaidaenco from Bucharest
12 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review can't contains spoiler because is nothing to be spoiled in this movie.

I don't necessarily dislike this kind of movie, because life itself can be boring and pointless, but when you do that, at least try to create strong characters, thrilling and interesting dialogues. From time to time we need a pointless slow pace movie about the recklessness of life and art, but here these things come from poor directing, lack of inspiration, dull camera work and bad acting. When an artist improvises the secret is to not let the audience to feel his struggle , otherwise is like feeling your dentist not knowing what he is doing to your teeth. So in this movie we have a director (played by the real director of this movie, who acts like a carpenter) and his wife, she is writer (but acts like a '50 suburb housewife). Those two artists look like an amish family giving moral lessons to a blacksheep.The bkacksheep si Anne Kendrick who acts like a disoriented teenager, having recreational drugs. Very evil indeed....the amish family must save her soul. At some point, the blacksheep commits the ultimate act of irresponsibility, she forgots a pizza in the owen, so the entire house is full of smoke. The carpenter-director and the housewife-writer are shocked, yelling at blacksheep, blaming for her behavior. The blacksheep disappears just on Christmas Eve.She will be found by the housewife-writer and the film ends in a stupid state of happiness.During the movie the housewife-writer try to writes an erotic novel with the blacksheep and another girl. Their storm-braining session are full of stupid dialogues about how to name genitals or intercourse in a mellow way. It seems in this movie everybody is waiting for inspiration.....the characters, the crew, the cast

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