Kind of pleased to have seen what may be the bookends of the box office list, having seen both Guardians of the Galaxy and Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas this last weekend. Amid all the hyperbole surrounding most summer blockbuster entertainments (including the shock & awe campaign promoting Guardians), that a homespun indie just shows up gently in a rep theatre, with no real campaign but a vibe of "hey, we got a movie here, you wanna see it?" makes one want to see it just by this modest contrast. Happy Christmas feels like a roadshow, wandering from theatre to theatre unfolding itself to any who seek it out.
Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff (Swanberg), whose family life is disrupted by the arrival of Jenny (Anna Kendrick), Jeff's well-meaning but alcoholic and irresponsible younger sister. Kelly and Jeff have more than enough problems raising their 2-year-old son (Jude Swanberg) and struggling with creative endeavors and career/family demands, yet all of these problems head toward a kind of resolution, even as Jenny takes her first tentative steps toward responsibility.
Lena Dunham glides in and out of the action like a celebrity guest at a jazz club, adding new shades and wit to every scene she joins. The novel the three women wind up writing together sounds joyously, spectacularly awful, and we're pretty sure you'll be dying to read it.
Happy Christmas is ideal counterprogramming amid the onslaught of summer movies, with all of its low-budget quirks giving it a real warmth lacking in most effects-driven summer spectaculars, and its improvisations lending a suspense absent in high-concept, lowest common denominator Hollywood movies-by-committee. And like any good summer movie, it even has a post-credits scene well worth sticking around for.