|HAPPY CHRISTMAS (director/writer: Joe Swanberg; cinematographer: Ben Richardson; editor: Joe Swanberg; cast: Anna Kendrick (Jenny), Melanie Lynskey (Kelly), Mark Webber (Kevin), Lena Dunham (Carson), Joe Swanberg (Jeff), Jude Swanberg (Jude); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Peter Gilbert/Joe Swanberg; Magnolia Pictures; 2014)|
|"Endearing comedy-drama about the
difficulties young adults have of maturing."
by Dennis Schwartz
prolific low-budget mumblecore
helmer Joe Swanberg ("The
Zone"/"Drinking Buddies"/"24 Exposures")
comes up with another endearing comedy-drama about the
difficulties young adults have of maturing and leaving
behind their aimless lives as youths. Swanberg depicts
how excruciatingly difficult it is for ordinary folks
to live normal lives.
27-year-old Jenny (Anna Kendrick)
breaks up with her boyfriend and during the Christmas
holiday season moves to Chicago and into the basement
of her married older brother filmmaker Jeff Spillane (Joe
Swanberg). Jeff's smart
wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) is a novelist, who
is not writing a second book to be a homemaker taking
care of their active 2-year-old son Jude (Jude
Swanberg). She's happy to care for
the kid, but is anxious to start writing again.
first night in her brother's home Jenny gets drunk at
a party and Jeff has to go over to the party site late
at night to bring her back. It upsets the harried but
mature Kelly that Jenny is so inconsiderate and
immature. The two ladies have completely different
personalities, and struggle to bond.
The situations that crop up as they live under the same roof are the ones that face most people, and all the characters seem genuine. It's a small, indie film that I found very pleasant despite the slight story. The simple message here seems to be to try and get it together to enjoy and experience life to your max, and not to get uptight if things don't seem to go as planned. In other words, chill out, get a little help from your friends and, maybe, smoke some weed when stressed. You lose if you let the mundane things that go awry bring you down and you can't fight back.
REVIEWED ON 11/21/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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