A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Courage can help you be your true self despite fears of possible disapproval. The drawbacks of hiding your true self are made clear, as are the rewards for self-acceptance. Empathy can help you imagine what others are going through and sympathize with them. It's important for parents to love their children as they are, not as they want them to be.
Positive Role Models
Characters are complex, which means that both their good and bad sides are explored. They're great examples of flawed people who are learning to live more truthfully and in harmony with one another. The lessons learned from the characters' mistakes go further to teach audiences than any of the characters' positive attributes. Main characters are White, but there are some diverse representations within the supporting cast. The character of John plays into "gay male best friend" romcom stereotypes.
Violence & Scariness
Adult siblings fight physically during a climactic moment, with some minor destruction of property. The moment is used for both comedic effect and drama. Arguing/sharp words.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scene in which suggested BDSM is used for a punchline. Suggested sex scene and a brief scene with characters redressing, with underwear shown on screen. Kissing/affection between a committed couple.
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Language isn't frequent but includes "s--t" and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Product placement for Brilliant Earth jewelry. Scene showcasing Pittsburgh restaurant Merchant Oyster Co.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink frequently, at parties, bars, and a family gathering. Beer, shots, and more. Characters talk about wanting "alcohol" as a way to avoid upsetting thoughts/conversations.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Happiest Season is a funny, heartfelt Christmas-themed romcom about a young woman named Harper (Mackenzie Davis) who brings her girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) home for the holidays but hasn't told her family about her relationship -- or her sexuality. Expect some strong language ("s--t," "hell," etc.), kissing, and implied sex, as well as a fair bit of drinking. But overall the film offers a powerful message about having the courage to be yourself, especially amid the fear of familial rejection. Both parents and kids can learn from Harper's struggle to accept herself and be truly happy with who she is. Some viewers may also relate to Harper's parents in terms of the movie's themes about admitting their mistakes and helping their children feel accepted exactly as they are. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.