Friday, July 4, 2014
Actor/writer/director Joe Swanberg has a flare for making increasingly attractive low budget films that are also increasingly unsatisfying. Like his Mumblecore contemporaries, he specializes in creating low budget films based on outlines with improvised conversations rather than scripts with rigid dialogue, and focusing on low concept ideas centered around ensemble groups in their 20's and 30's. To his credit, he manages to assemble amazing talent on his shoe string budget. (This one includes Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber and Lena Dunham, which is on par with last year's 'Drinking Buddies', with Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jake Johnson, and Jason Sudeikis. But, while I was underwhelmed by 'Drinking Buddies', I was even more so with 'Happy Christmas'. Quite frankly, he squanders the talent and there's just not enough here to make a movie out of. I kept waiting and wanting for the payoff, in its scant 82 minutes, but at a certain point I realized it was never going to come. Swanberg really needs to take a lesson in Mumblecore from Jay and Mark Duplass who do it best. Naturalistic conversations in micro budget films can work, but you still need a good concept. Without one you're just wasting everybody's time.
'Happy Christmas' is now available on Video on Demand.
Who is this movie for? It's just not worth your time, even if you're as big a fan of the cast as I am.