Where I Watched: Vudu’s 99 cent holiday sale
Genre: Family – And Love – Is A Curse And A Blessing Holidayness
New Holiday Spirit or Ghost of Christmas Past?: Copies the” families + holidays = crazypants” style of holiday hijijks.
Synopsis: Jacquie is accomplished AF in her work life, mostly because she’s a perfectionist. She’s also got a great big boisterous family that’s coming to her brand new house…and a work related holiday home photo shoot scheduled for Xmas day that could change her life. Hey, where’s the dog…?
Unwrap or regift?: Ugh. I have never been actually angry at a film ever in my life…until now. And I’ve watched some clunkers y’all. This is about as festive as last year’s fruitcake that’s was stuffed into the garage last year and left to age. (Accident. Sure.) Save for Jacquie, the Liddles come off as self-absorbed, uncaring monsters that invade her home, wreck it, and then decide that she’s the one who needs to change. Even her wooden love interest (why do all holiday cuties have to be so wooden?) tells her that “it’s just stuff” after the big trash-the-house-while-the-camera-crew-is-here climax. While I understand that this came out last year, during a moment in history when so very many folks are doing without – or with much less than they’ve ever had – Liddle feels smugly superior and tone deaf.
The destructive hijinks are supposed to be funny, but I found her family’s complete lack of interest in Jacquie’s life and success annoying. Ditto the lack of empathy, or any sort of apologetic behavior. I blame the bulk of that lack of emotion on the bland acting by everyone who isn’t Kelly Rowland. Heck, even the glorious Debbi Morgan (as Momma Liddle) isn’t given much to work with besides acting self-important and ignoring everything outside of her idea of the holidays, her daughter’s career be damned. Yeah, they all mumble “I’m sorry” in the last few minutes of the film, but honestly? By then I was too ticked off at these jerks to care.
Lucky for them, money fixes everything, and they all have plenty of it. Even the thousands of dollars of presents Jacquies’s niece and nephew auto-ordered from Alexa (aka “Benson”, an awesome touch) isn’t even thought about, but simply given away to others during the film’s We Are Nice People We Swear denouement. Sweet gesture, but I couldn’t get past the “sweeping everything under the rug to get to the happy ending” feeling. A happy ending that feels unearned and hollow. I blame a script that never seemed to gel. Great ideas, fun setup, but they missed the caring and empathy between family members. Which makes for an empty, soulless watch.
As a family-drives-you-nuts-but-they’re-awesome tale, Liddle comes off as annoying instead of wholesome. Maybe it’s just that all the wanton destruction doesn’t come with any believable emotional patching up (like Christmas Vacation) or touching lessons learned (like This Christmas). When all is said and done, Jacquie is the only one who changes, with her family being the same as they were from the start. What have we learned today kids? If you work hard, you should expect your family to not care, and you should suck that up and deal, because you’re the problem. Cheers!
I dig that the idea for this film came from Rowland’s own personal experiences. Now that’s a lady I want to share an eggnog (and some tea…) with. But while the Family + Holidays idea is a strong one that’s worked before, it doesn’t work here. Instead of melting my heart, this movie stirred up my anger (OBVIOUSLY). Not the holiday feeling I was hoping for.
I’ll be skipping the sequel, I don’t care how gorgeous the upper-middle class neighborhood pr0n is. Rowland, and viewers, deserved much better than this.
Score: 0.5 out of 5 Hos.