In 1989, director Mary Lambert adapted Stephen King's novel for the screen and made Pet Sematary. She also returned for a sequel to this horror film in 1992. After dispensing scares all those years ago, Lambert made A Castle for Christmas in 2021 (also available on Netflix). Now, she returns with yet another Christmassy story titled Best. Christmas. Ever! Look at the words; look at the exclamation mark. Who needs a critic when the movie can review itself? The title may suggest a grand and beautiful story, but unfortunately, the plot falls short and offers a predictable storyline. If you've seen one Christmas movie, you've seen them all. All of them have a character who goes through a rough patch/doesn't believe in Christmas, and by the end, the Christmas miracle puts a smile on everybody's face and makes them an optimist.
Filmmakers don't deviate from this formula because this predictability is the selling point of these films. It's akin to a warm hug, a shiny Christmas gift for people who seek comfort from the movies. Best. Christmas. Ever! unsurprisingly goes through the motions. However, there are times when it seems it's on the verge of becoming an R-rated sex comedy. It's not just the fact that "sex" is substituted with "moving furniture." but the couples - Charlotte (Heather Graham) and Rob (Jason Biggs), Jackie (Brandy Norwood) and Valentino (Matt Cedeño) - find themselves getting attracted to the other person's partner. Rob and Jackie become livelier in each other's presence, while Charlotte's heart skips a beat when she sees Valentino.
This attraction, however, is dismissed as friendly behavior when Valentino remarks that you can find someone desirable, but this feeling can also be meaningless. Moreover, when Charlotte asks Valentino if he finds her attractive, he says no. Best. Christmas. Ever! doesn't want to be uncomfortable. It's safe and soft. This is the kind of film where the biggest reveal involves a secret newsletter. It will be futile to talk about Charlotte's profession - or anyone's, for that matter. Financial troubles, along with professional ones, are simply little boxes that need to be checked. After a dollhouse incident, the movie merely jumps from one obstacle to another so that it can wrap them up as blithely as possible.
The actors are okay; the movie is almost okay. If Best. Christmas. Ever! had mature sensibilities, it would have ended with the kids learning that Santa Claus is not real and that Christmas becomes magical due to the humans - in the presence of people who love you very much. However, it not only feeds fantasy to the children but even to the adults by putting in an actual Santa Claus near the end. Splendiferous is a word that does not suit this film very well. Like Charlotte reading the Jennings family's newsletter, you watch the movie and mostly go, "Ugh!"
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