“Happiest Season,” streaming on Hulu Wednesday, may add some extra happiness to your 2020 holiday season, according to reviews from critics.
In the romantic comedy starring Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie, which is currently sporting a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Abby (Stewart) aims to propose to girlfriend Harper (Davis) at Harper’s annual holiday family dinner. But when Abby learns Harper has kept their relationship a secret from her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber), Abby questions their future – and Christmas is suddenly in jeopardy.
“If you’re needing an addition to your usual Christmas flicks this year, give #HappiestSeason a go,” says Brian Truitt, USA TODAY’s film critic.
“It’s inclusive, surprising, clever and plenty heartfelt, Kristen Stewart’s funny(!), and Daniel Levy’s pop-culture takeover continues to be one of 2020’s most wonderful things,” Truitt added.
The film “adds up to a Christmas movie that lifts your spirit in just the right ways,” Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety, wrote in a review.
Gleiberman pointed out that as a viewer, “you can believe in the people you’re watching,” noting that the movie is a true romance that offers both the expected and the unexpected.
Gleiberman’s point was echoed by Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. “It works. It’s built,” he wrote. “And the people seem real, or at least reality-adjacent.”
Rolling Stone’s K. Austin Collins, pointed out both positives and negatives – or, rather, okOK-isms.
“It’s a feature that’d fit snugly alongside the likes of ‘Meet the Parents’ and ‘The Holiday,’ a quick gay interlude amid the usual reams of hetero family drama,” Collins wrote, adding that it has a “stacked deck” of actors and despite an adherence to a familiar holiday movie formula, the film stays afloat with a bit of spark.
“It’s not a knockout, but the actors frequently are,” Collins adds. “The rest is an exercise in not overdoing it. It’s here, it’s queer, it’s not much else – and that’s OK.”
Like Collins, Sara Stewart of the New York Post, looked at positives and negatives.
“Tonally, “Happiest Season” is a bit uneven; it can move from broad hijinks to high emotion a little too quickly,” Stewart wrote.
But, she continued, it also offers “wonderfully heartfelt moments” including a speech from Levy about coming out and empathy. “Director Clea DuVall (‘The Intervention’), who’s out herself, deftly navigates this vaguely non-traditional plot right into the seasonal comfort zone,” Stewart continued.
Kevin Fallon, senior entertainment reporter for the Daily Beast, pointed out that “sight unseen” the movie has likely already been plotted out in the minds of an audience that has been desperately waiting for a queer-positive film to be added to the lineup of “holiday romance canon.” But, he continued, this movie is likely not what the awaiting masses may have envisioned.
In spite of that, “it’s still quite good, as far as this genre goes: both entirely pleasant and with a nimble thumb plucking at the heart strings just when you want it to.”
Contributing: Brian Truitt, USA TODAY