Parents' Guide to

Happiest Season

By Monique Jones, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Sweet holiday romcom about coming out; drinking, language.

Movie PG-13 2020 102 minutes
Happiest Season Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 11+

Beautiful holiday story about loving yourself and your children

This movie surprised me in a good way. All the makings of a family holiday and rom-com. It was funnier than expected, thanks to the great ensemble cast. I’m straight, cis-gendered but from what I can tell the makers did a great job telling a love story through a gay/lesbian lens. The discussion around being out or closeted is nuanced and kind. My daughter is a mature 11 year old and loved it. Heads up depending on your child - the Santa call out is clear if they are paying attention.
age 16+

This is the best movie. People saying kristen is not a great actress is wrong. This movie has a great message about being true to yourself, loving your partner and your family. I am not even gay but still i was touched. Love this movie

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (11 ):

Written and directed by Clea DuVall, this romcom is groundbreaking in that it's one of the few LGBTQ+-themed films made for the holiday season. But Happiest Season ultimately hits many of the same beats that a holiday film about a heterosexual, cisgender couple would. For better or worse, this makes it feel immediately comfortable and familiar. The cast does a great job at keeping the film feeling light, funny, and heartwarming. And the film's humor also ensures that the tough, complex subject of coming out never gets too dramatic or possibly triggering. But the retreading of popular holiday movie/romcom themes does prevent the film from breaking out of traditional Hollywood modes. For instance, Levy's character, John, embodies several too-familiar "gay male best friend" stereotypes -- i.e. characters who are often mysteriously devoid of familial ties, always have snappy comebacks ready, and are the emotional backup for their best friend when needed. John does have a more serious, expansive moment when he counsels Abby on Harper's reticence to come out to her family, citing how some families disown or disapprove of children who identify within the LGBQ spectrum and talking about his own traumatic coming-out experience. But beyond this, John remains a character of cliches, which is unfortunate in a film like this, which overall aims to break stereotypes.

Davis does well with Harper, who could be read as unlikable or even manipulative. Harper's fear of her parents' reaction to her sexuality is understandable, and the regretful actions she takes can be put into the context of that fear. But compared to Stewart's likable Abby, who's comfortable with herself, Harper can seem like she's taking advantage of Abby's love and devotion. Things only ramp up when viewers learn more about what Harper did to Riley in the past, making you wonder whether Abby and Riley should be together instead. But Harper's fear is only part of the problem with her dysfunctional family, and her courage to be herself eventually helps the rest of her family members be themselves, too, bringing the film back to its ;roots of togetherness, happiness, and holiday cheer. Despite its flaws, Happiest Season does remind audiences that, for many people, the point of the holidays is to be with family and celebrate love and joy. And the film's message that everyone deserves love, understanding, and empathy rings true.

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