December 18: Happiest Season (2020)

Happiest Season. Directed by Clea DuVall. Hulu, 2020.

Pre-Screening Sips

  • I have been eagerly anticipating this movie, and having been waiting for the perfect time during the Christmas Countdown to watch
  • Normally, I’m not a Kristen Stewart fan, but I have a feeling she’s just right for this

Post-Screening Snippets

  • You know the movie is going to be great when Michelle Buteau is on screen within five minutes
  • Kristen Stewart actually looks like she’s having a good time here – I was right!
  • I am fully in love with Dan Levy, but he plays, um, me in this movie, so I do feel both seen and narcissistically smitten
  • We need more gay man and lesbian friendships on screen – gay men and lesbians are friends, people!
  • “This is Harper’s orphan friend” – the first of many full-on cackles throughout
  • Jane is one of the best film characters of 2020. She is never explicitly identified as neurodivergent, but she is coded that way, and DuVall never exploits this to be laughed at. We laugh with Jane because she’s the only member of the family to experience and share joy.
  • Just when you thought you were out of reasons to hate children in movies, these two little tone deaf, petty thief assholes exist
  • Okay, let’s all take a few minutes to reflect on the wonder that is Aubrey Plaza, especially as Riley
  • Judy Geller walked so Mary Steenburgen’s Tipper could run
  • I don’t want to spoil the climax of the film, but the destruction of the white elephant gift hurt me on a deep level
  • I watched this with my family, and my dad audibly gasped multiple times

The Final Hot Chocolate

            Happiest Season is amazing, and I love it and I will watch it every year moving forward. Jane, John, and Riley are all fabulous queens I want to spend every holiday with. Now, I know there are two primary criticisms with this film, and I want to address them with minimal spoilers. One, I understand where people are coming from feeling like coming out narratives are a bit dated. Yes, that frequently is a form that queer narratives take on screen, and yes, we should have more variety. Even so, when done right, these narratives are important and the world is far less progressive than we like to give it credit for, so this movie might save someone’s hope this year. Two, I get that people have a problem with the ending. I think your frustration is justified, but I think the ending works.

GRADE: A

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