A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I'll Be Next Door for Christmas is a broad comedy with intentionally-exaggerated characters in preposterous situations. A teen California girl is embarrassed by her family's annual over-the-top Christmas celebration. When her Connecticut boyfriend comes to visit, she devises an ambitious scheme to keep him from meeting her parents and from realizing that she's a part of their holiday madness. The movie has a slapstick innocence about it, even though viewers will hear some mild swearing (i.e., "damn," "hell," "crap") and sexual innuendo (i.e., "jingle balls," "I'd like to double-tongue Josh"). A cat with a penchant for peeing everywhere does some damage, and a little girl and her grandmother sing a Christmas song about poop. That comically-lecherous grandma has a few choice comments as well ("Screw you, Faye Dunaway"). There are humorous references to one man's past difficulties with alcohol, and wine is served at a dinner. In keeping with the overall farcical tone, there are a few pratfalls and a brief fake fight. Note: this movie is the first feature-film financed through equity crowdfunding (raising capital from online sources, i.e., Indiegogo or Kickstarter).
What's the story?
Christmas in Santa Clarita, California is a nightmare of embarrassment for Nicky (Juliette Angelo) in I'LL BE NEXT DOOR FOR CHRISTMAS. Her dad, Chris (Regan Burns) is obsessed with the holiday. The family house lights up the neighborhood; decorations, inside and out, are more than elaborate, they're high tech; they're humongous. Chris beams, sure that their mammoth presentation is visible from outer space. But Nicky is a high school student. She's just returned from a performing arts camp, has fallen in love for the first time. She's horrified to discover that Tanner (Javier Bolanos), the object of her affection, and his dad plan a cross-country visit for the holidays. Nicky can't let him see her family's out-of-control extravaganza. Even worse, Tanner is hoping for a low-key Christmas. His mom left the family on Christmas day years earlier, and ever since the holiday has been an awful reminder. Nicky, who is willing to do anything to save Christmas for Tanner, is blessed with several "natural" resources: Stephanie (Kirrilee Berger), an audacious Jewish BFF who's eager to help, the vacant, fully-furnished house next door, and her own fearlessness, which, if her scheme works, just might save her from utter humiliation.
Is it any good?
A profusion of spirited, hammy actors in top form sell the ridiculousness of the premise and the plot but bring a sweetness and sincerity to this holiday release, too. The cast is game, willing to sacrifice vanity for farce. The production design team must have rejoiced at their freedom to create the endless Christmas revelry. I'll Be Next Door for Christmas isn't a great movie, but it's fun, energetic, and a cut above the often routine live-action seasonal offerings.
Director David Jay Willis amiably exaggerates everything -- a romance blossoms in green fields and soft focus; a Christmas "Cave" is a pleasure dome of glitz and glitter; a farcical table is set with wannabe actors who despise each other as they eat a Christmas Eve dinner of matzoh and potato latkes. The leading lady's duplicity is ever disarming, well-intentioned, and well played by Juliette Angelo. A nice addition to the ever-expanding inventory of Christmas movies for tweens and teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about differences in comedy genres. What is slapstick comedy (or farce)? How does it differ from "black comedy?" From a "spoof?" What other styles of comedy do you like? Which classification best fits I'll Be Next Door for Christmas?"
What is meant by the statement: "The right thing to do is not always the popular thing to do." Can you give an example of that concept? Have you ever been faced with such a dilemma? What choice did you make?
The film was financed via a crowdfunding platform (i.e., Kickstarter, GoFundMe). Knowing how hard it is for filmmakers to raise money, in what ways do you think this new source might impact the film industry? In these earliest stages, do you think it's a good thing? Why or why not?
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