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29 Jul 2014

Home Video Review: The Improvised Feel of 'Happy Christmas' Helps This Comedy Succeed

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Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham in Happy Christmas. Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham in Happy Christmas.

Writer-director Joe Swanberg has followed up his terrific Drinking Buddies with Happy Christmas, a fun vehicle for Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey.

Kendrick plays Jenny, a woman who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and goes to live with her brother and his wife (played by Swanberg and Lynskey) in Chicago. Once there, she commences partying with her pal (Lena Dunham of TV’s Girls) and disrupting her brother’s household, which includes the nephew she is supposed to be baby-sitting.

The movie feels as if it has been largely improvised, especially when the amazingly funny toddler is on screen. The stars handle the freewheeling nature of the film well. Kendrick and Lynskey shine in their scenes together, while Mark Webber is decent as Jenny’s new love interest. Swanberg is an interesting director, for sure.

Many of the stars in this film, as well as Sam Rockwell, Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt, are slated to appear in his next film, Digging for Fire, a movie I will be eagerly anticipating. Swanberg has managed to stay under the radar so far; I suspect that might change soon.

Happy Christmas is available via online sources, including iTunes, Amazon.com, and via video on demand.

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