A young woman named Harper Caldwell (Mackenzie Davis) with a plan to propose to her girlfriend Abby Holland (Kristen Stewart) while at her family’s annual holiday party discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents.
After watching a ton of Hallmark / Lifetime original Christmas movies the past few weeks, watching Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season was the biggest breath of fresh air I’ve had in a while. Not only is this a truly excellent romantic holiday film, but it’s genuinely one of the best movies of the year with a heart so big and strong, it’s hard to find faults.
One of the strongest elements of this film is its central romance between Abby and Harper. We don’t get enough LGBT relationships in movies. Not only does Happiest Season make an effort to try to showcase an LGBT relationship, but it’s one of the most heartfelt and compelling romances I have seen on screen in quite some time.
Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis have some of the best chemistry of the entire year here. They feel so authentic and real in their roles and absolutely nothing feels faked. Watching both Abby and Harper felt like I was watching a true romance blossom in front of me. They care about each other so deeply and intimately. They want each other to be happy no matter what, and they spend each second of the day together (or whatever time they have free).
But Abby feels a little bit betrayed when she discovers that Harper has not even told her parents that they are dating. Harper tells them that Abby is just a roommate, but Abby wants her to come forward and tell the truth to her parents. Abby feels like Harper cares more about what her parents think of her more than she cares about their relationship.
There are a lot of obstacles in their way throughout the duration of Happiest Season, and watching them try to overcome these obstacles and find their spark amidst the chaos was incredibly touching. It also helps that the film has its fair share of emotional moments, especially in the third act. As the movie progresses, you care about both Abby and Harper more and more to the point where you feel like they are family.
Plus, the film is absolutely hilarious with many moments making me laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen too often. Mary Holland and Clea DuVall wrote the script for this film and injected it with tons of humor, heart, and wit sure to make anybody crack a smile.
If there is one thing to complain about regarding Happiest Season, it would have to be the supporting characters. They really don’t have a whole lot to do throughout the story, namely Aubrey Plaza as Riley Bennett, Harper’s ex-girlfriend. She appears every once in a while to give some advice to Abby, but that’s about it. Dan Levy delivers a hysterical performance as John -Abby’s best friend – but he really doesn’t get a whole lot to do either. He felt almost like a comedic relief character with no real development along the way.
Thankfully though, DuVall’s film stands tall as one of the greatest Christmas movies in years that just so happens to feature one of the strongest romances in years as well. If you’re looking for a sweet and endearing watch to put you in a jolly mood, look no further than Happiest Season.
Happiest Season is an infectiously sweet and endearing laugh-riot with an excellent central romance and a script that will tug on your heartstrings.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language
Directed by: Clea DuVall
Distributed by: Hulu
Release Date: November 25, 2020
Running Time: 102 minutes