Well, you didn’t ask for it but you got it, Boozers! Your favorite dynamic duo, Hawk Ripjaw (kitten wrangler to the stars) and Felix Felicis (Kardashian whisperer extraordinaire) are back in the saddle riding debate-style once again on this Almost Christmas (even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I know this because my mother hasn’t asked me over salty mashed potatoes what in the actual fuck I’m doing with my life) review! I know in this post-apocalyptic hellscape of an election year we’re all looking for a way out so keep checking that Canadian immigration website for tips on how to trick a baby out of a Mountie for a visa like me! (Or, you know, just read this review and stew in national regret for four to eight years like the rest of America). Tomato/To-Trump-o.
She Said: Okay, so let’s break Almost Christmas down before the uppers and downers kick in. We begin with a music video montage of what I assume to be the ideal family/family life in the 1950’s except thirty years too late then gloss over the tragic, unexpected and off screen death of the family matriarch (Don’t worry, there’s pie) to flash forward ten months when it’s, drumroll please, ALMOST CHRISTMAS again.
He Said: *checks calendar* isn’t it a bit early for—
She Said: GET IT? GET IT? HEY DID YOU GET IT, BECAUSE WORDPLAY?
He Said: Just walked into a Costco. I get it.
She Said: Cool. So I can’t remember any of the character’s names because who they were wasn’t important, or, for that matter, ever clearly defined.
He Said: Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure the filmmakers were counting on that so everyone got their own distinct personality quirk.
She Said: But we have all the players lined up for the game, Stoic Widower (I think it’s Danny Glover but I’m not sure because I thought he was already dead)–
He Said: The only reason this man keeps calling Christmas parties to his home is so he can somehow re-experience the orgasmic Sweet Potato Pie he had when his wife was alive–
She Said: Crazy Aunt (who’s actually kind of funny depending on how drunk you are-PUSH A BITCH AGAIN)–
He Said: Incidentally, this also correlates with how drunk Mo’Nique was during each scene–
She Said: Workaholic Politician Son–
He Said: Complete with a quirky White, Culturally Insensitive Dumbass sidekick!
She Said: Workaholic’s Supportive Wife-
He Said: This Jada Pinkett-Smith-looking lady was literally nothing more than the space between the lines of other characters–
She Said: Successful Businesswoman Bitter Barbie–
He Said: I don’t think I remember a single line out of that lady’s mouth–
She Said: Bitter Barbie’s Sleazy Husband–
He Said: When “Cheating on your wife” is your character’s prime and only source of comedy, you’re stepping into dangerously amateurish writing territory–
She Said: Family Screwup Abandonment Issues Barbie–
He Said: OK now I’m even lost–
She Said: Pill-Popping Athlete Son–
He Said: AKA Late Second Act Plot Device Waiting to Happen–
She Said: and Assorted Diabetes-Inducing Wiser-Than-Their Years Children.
He Said: Every once in a while, I briefly consider children in my far future. The Almost Christmas kids are a perfect reminder of why that’s a bad fucking idea.
She Said: Did I miss anyone? Nope don’t tell me I don’t care. All sad dad wants is for this family to get along FOR ONE WEEK in honor of their mother’s memory.
He Said: My family is a third that size and it’s still a tall order.
She Said: Anything but harmony ensues until everyone learns a Christmas lesson and GTFO of Dodge. The End.
She Said: Now I don’t know how much of this was due to the quality of Almost Christmas or the fact that I was PMSing harder than Blac Chyna was tripping balls when she named the latest Kardashian Kid “Dream” but I actually laughed a few times during this flick AND felt some feels once or twice.
He Said: I know that we’re calling this a toast, but I’m practically upset that I had the same reaction. I was expecting to hate the shit out of this movie and it still snuck a couple of genuine dramatic moments into my heart.
She Said: Most of it was laughing AT the movie rather than WITH it but don’t fight it, Almost Christmas, take the win.
He Said: Almost Christmas, you get one victory lap and one victory lap only. No balloons.
She Said: The best part that literally made me go “Yes!” and fling my hands up in the air touchdown-style was the single, precious, glorious one-liner “I’m too old for this shit” muttered by Stoic Widower aka Danny Glover aka Murtagh from Lethal Weapon (the movie not the television show) during the shit-hits-the-fan-and-splats Christmas dinner showdown.
He Said: The best part about that line is you’re not really sure whether that was a Murtagh throwback or Danny Glover trying to come up with the most amicable way to fire his agent right before the holidays.
She Said: Nothing else matters other than this Murtagh Moment. Nothing. 2016 has gone straight down the crapper but we at least have this to keep us warm at night.
She Said: If you strip Almost Christmas down to the brass tacks (which won’t take long) it’s basically a thinly-just-kidding-not-so-thinly-veiled morality tale cobbled together from the Land Of Super Shallow Stereotypes.
He Said: I stopped caring about names and just stared assigning stereotypes, but “Sassy” and “Doesn’t Want to Be in This Movie” was still not specific enough.
She Said: It’s almost magnificent how terrible a job the film does at explaining ANYTHING like if you have a kid do NOT let Almost Christmas give it the birds and the bees talk because your child WILL end up on Teen Mom or Dance Moms or any kind of mom show, really. Neither Hawk or I knew who anyone was in relation to each other, are they sisters, brothers, married, or all of the above?
He Said: Hey, the family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre were murderous because they were inbred. Those proclivities had to start somewhere.
She Said: The world may never know because just like however many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, it will forever remain a mystery.
He Said: I once tried to take on this challenge, but licks and sucks just kind of blended together and I gave up. One day, I will have an answer for you.
She Said: I mean, even taking into account how clearly-not-the-target-demographic we were and how much of the humor Hawk and I missed because of that, Almost Christmas manages to convolute even the simplest of storylines.
He Said: This could partially be because the movie was originally written as a Thanksgiving movie, then changed at the last minute.
She Said: Like why some random dude keeps popping up to hit on Abandonment Issues Barbie until a solid 3/4 of the way through the film when Almost Christmas tosses us a bone and they hash it out.
He Said: When it comes to Christmas, it can get hard to balance misery and happiness.
She Said: With the right B.A.C you can endure anything. Even your sister snatching a half-eaten roll out of your mouth while screaming “dibs!”.
He Said: For Almost Christmas, it’s apparently even harder.
She Said: Doubtful, but go on.
He Said: For every sorrowful or nostalgic reminiscing of Dead Mom, we get another dumbass quip from whichever family member hasn’t had the most recent chance to mug at an imaginary studio audience.
She Said: I’m still trying to unstick one of my eyeballs that rolled so far back inside my head when the kitchen family dance-a-thon happened that it hasn’t been seen since. Typing with one good eye isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Coral.
He Said: For every scene in which things start to get goofy, someone has to start reminiscing about Dead Mom–although if I had to deal with a family with this many emotional ups and downs, I’d probably be dead too.
She Said: Almost Christmas has more wildly fluctuating tonal inconsistencies than when I’m white-girl-wasted at the bar and cry-laughing in the corner before last call. Women are magical creatures, Hawk.
He Said: I’ll take your word on that and Almost as if it’s switching off between them, the movie explores drunken piano lessons, arguments about being a workaholic, dancing in the kitchen, arguments about cooking, slapstick pratfalls, arguments about careers, and so on and so forth.
She Said: It’s ALMOST (GET IT ALMOST LIKE THE MOVIE TITLE THAT’S WORDPLAY, HAWK) as if you’re telling me a movie about family dynamics has rough patches before the resolution?
He Said: I know, right?! For every poignant conversation about Dead Mom, there is another with those fucking kids saying something cheeky.
She Said: I’m 95% certain this movie and those sickeningly sweet children will be the root cause of my late-onset adult diabetes somewhere down the road. I thought it would be candy corn but nope, these wise-beyond-their-years little techno gurus will be the reason.
He Said: There are ways to balance drama and comedy, but Almost Christmas doesn’t have a damn clue how to do it, throwing everything it can at the wall to see what sticks, and sloppily tops it off with the requisite MacGuffin of Mom’s recipe tin, which is apparently so mystical that anyone who tries to cook without it runs the risk of either food poisoning or arson.
She Said: Either of those options being a better choice than RANDOMLY FINDING THE LOST TIN SOMEWHERE THEY LITERALLY USE EVERY DAMN DAY. But whatever, logic is for schmucks.
She Said: It’s also really *amazing (*please infer an assload of sarcasm here) how much the cast did with their cardboard cutout fleet of Flat Stanley characters, I mean, I’ve seen more depth come out of a Real Housewives reunion show.
He Said: I get more realistic interactions out of forty minutes of Property Brothers, and that show is staged as fuck.
She Said: It’s days later and I cannot remember a single character’s name or purpose other than to follow the most predictable plot line for their predictably redemptive story arc.
He Said: Wait… there was an arc?
She Said: Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t bad movie and the audience seemed to really dig it on a level I clearly wasn’t able to access, but Almost Christmas boiled down to the glue is nothing more and nothing less than a black hole where creativity went to take a nap.
He Said: This is the result of two plot generator software programs set against each other.
She Said: Almost Christmas exists. It’s a movie-shaped movie/waste of brain space and trying to get a grip on this bitch and break it down critically is like clinging to an ice wall that’s just a LITTLE bit melty.
He Said: A BUTTERY ice wall….*gag*
She Said: Truth. The story’s been told before and it’ll be a story told over and over again. You could do better. You could also do way, way worse.
She Said: Almost Christmas is better than a rusty spork in the eye or Tom Hanks Inferno snoozefest but not as good as literally anything you can sprinkle cheese on. Science fact.
He Said: I wanted it to suck so badly. I’ve developed a possibly medically significant addiction to pure cinematic shit, and this just ended up being a movie.
Last Call: There are some outtakes right when the credits start to roll if you stick around or haven’t already bolted for the door yet.
Almost Christmas (2016) Drinking Game
She Said: Take a Drink for every wig change.
He Said: Do a Shot whenever someone starts reminiscing.
She Said: Take a Sip for every argument (pace yourself).
He Said: Take a Drink for every mention of the recipe tin, and every attempt to cook without it.
They Said: Shotgun Your Beer when they go get “Grandma”.