Friday, December 2, 2022

A Hollywood Christmas: Movie Review

A Hollywood Christmas is another self-aware Christmas rom-com, gently poking fun at itself while paying homage to the tried-and-true formula. It opens with the movie-within-the-movie: a big city lawyer walks into a small-town girl’s struggling cupcake shop, he threatens to shut it down because he hates Christmas, and the girl teaches him the magic of Christmas and together they save her store and fall in love.   2022

Directed by: Alex Ranarivelo

Screenplay by: John Ducey

Starring: Jessika Van, Josh Swickard

Meanwhile back in the “real world”: a hot shot network executive walks onto the set of a director’s Christmas movie and threatens to shut it down. See the similarity? Of course you do. Part of the charm of the movie is that it knows that every single audience member knows what the formula is, they’re not trying to hide it, and they don’t care that they’re not subtle.

The characters all respond to the formula of the genre in a cute way. Reena (Anissa Borrego) likes detailing the handful of different directions the scripts can take and is insistent from the very beginning that the story of director Jessica (Jessika Van) and network exec Christopher (Josh Swickard) must follow one of the standard storylines, because that’s just fate. Jessica meanwhile knows that movie storylines don’t resemble real life, but she loves the genre because of how comforting it is. And Daniel (Tom Williamson) the assistant director is a little more in line with the network exec thinking that the genre is probably ready for at least a small shake-up in the formula. But not this time.

All of the jokes are based around the making of the movie, and Reena linking Jessica’s and Christopher’s relationship with that of the movie. The jokes include an overly-sensitive lead actress, an egotistical male lead, a chihuahua dressed as an elf that constantly runs away from set but barks right on cue, nearby sets which includes a Grease-meets-The Walking Dead movie called Zombie Homecoming, the making of Christmas movies in July in Los Angeles where it’s hot and there’s zero real snow, and on and on, I think you get the idea. All of the jokes are cute, some are reasonably funny, some are pretty lame because they’re just too predictable.

The film does do well introducing the two main characters. Jessica wants to know Christopher’s background, so she can understand why he’s just allowed to walk onto her set and slash her budget. And guess what? He has no movie experience, he came from finance, mergers and acquisitions on wall street to be exact. To be more exact, he went to prep school with the CEO of the network and that’s how he got this job. Jessica’s an Asian-American who self-produced her first movie and has since made six successful Christmas movies. While it’s not exactly subtle, it is a well-earned nod to the unfair power balance that exists in the industry.

The romance would be non-existent if it wasn’t a requirement of the script and is a fairly glaring mistake in a Christmas rom-com that otherwise does a really cute job shining a little glittering light on this sector of the movie industry.

Hallmark has an almost identical movie this year with “Lights, Camera, Christmas!”. There’s a little bit more to the romance and comedy in Lights, Camera, Christmas! to round it out, while A Hollywood Christmas is a more self-reflective.

Want a different Christmas movie or just more holiday-themed movies? Holiday Movies