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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Jeff and Jenny's relationship shows how important it is for siblings to be there for one another, even if it's not convenient or easy. Family and unconditional love are needed to get through tough times.
Positive Role Models
Jeff and Kelly are loving, patient, and caring brother and sister-in-law to Jenny, who continues to act inconsiderately, self-destructively, and irresponsibly. They're also good and devoted new parents who want to make sure that Jenny is responsible enough to watch their son.
Violence & Scariness
Jenny is slapped a couple of times while she's nearly passed out drunk. She's dragged and then carried out of a house party. Kelly slaps her in anger for almost setting the house on fire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kissing and a lovemaking scene between a married couple, plus a couple of more involved sex scenes between a couple that has just met. The woman gives the man instructions on how to please her (like pulling her hair in a certain way). They scenes are shot in an intimate close-up, but the people are partially clothed.
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Lots of casual swearing and strong language, especially "f--k" (as both a term for sex and an exclamation) and "a--hole," as well as "s--t" and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Not frequent, just iPhone and a brief shot of a stack of board games like Trivial Pursuit, Sequence, etc.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of adult drunkenness and use of drugs, particularly cocktails and marijuana. One character is both a part-time babysitter and a part-time pot dealer. A couple of adults are shown drinking recreationally, but the main character drinks so much that she basically passes out.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Happy Christmas is an indie holiday dramedy with mature themes and family dysfunction that aren't likely appeal to young teens -- so while fans of Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick may be curious about the film, but it's clearly aimed at adults. There's drunkenness (as in passed-out drunk more than once) and marijuana use (one character is a part-time pot dealer), very frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.), and a few sex scenes (although none shows nudity). The protagonist isn't an ideal role model, but at least her relationship with her older brother demonstrates the importance of having strong relationships with your siblings and family. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The subtlety of Swanberg's films is always notable, but Happy Christmas is slightly too uneven to be his best work. Swanberg is famous in indie circles for his semi-improvisational, ultra-realistic mumblecore indie dramas, with his last film before this one, Drinking Buddies, being his most commercially successful. His style can lead to uneven results. While some actors are up to the task of taking the concept of their roles and running with them, others seem stifled rather than empowered by the unscripted portrayals. Kendrick, who was good in Drinking Buddies, seems unable to fully capture what Jenny is about, whereas Swanberg and Lena Dunham, who plays Jenny's old friend, Carson, know exactly how to add layers of humor and depth while still keeping it real.
Probably the biggest scene-stealer of all is Swanberg's baby, Jude, already a veteran "actor" who has appeared in both of his parents' projects (mom is Kris Swanberg, who makes a brief appearance here as the landlord of a messy house share that Jenny visits). Baby Jude's attempts to talk and kiss and cuddle his dad and other characters are ridiculously genuine and sweet, and they make Joe and Kelly, the new parents trying to figure out how to balance their parental obligations with their professional aspirations, much more compelling than Jenny, who's a lot less self aware than the striving Girls characters Dunham created.
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.