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The syrupy Hallmark Christmas movie isn’t exactly top of the list for pressing satirical targets – but we’re getting a parody anyway, courtesy of this oppressively ironic Canadian film co-written and directed by Jake Horowitz. “Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with some small-town, eight-out-of-10 stranger and find the true meaning of Christmas,” plucky big-city magazine writer Mary (Storm Steenson) is warned by her boss – thereby rendering plot summary superfluous as she is dispatched to her home town Snowy Heights to get the generic scoop.
This sort of knowing snark is briefly fun, as Mary meets the townsfolk. The eight-out-of-10 is Chris (Alexander Oliver), owner of local cafe Cup of Cheer, whose brother Keith (Liam Marshall) is a pole-dancing elf. Sheriff Rudolph (Steve Kasan) is “the town’s racially diverse cop”. And it’s topped up with a sizeable quotient of smut as well. “Where does a prince need to go round here to get a hot load in the face?” asks another character, inexplicably arrived from medieval England. The randomness is typical of the film’s overstuffed approach, dumping out the contents of the gag hamper on us and seeing what sticks.
Too much is flat-out unfunny, and Cup of Cheer gets grating pretty quickly. With little plot beyond a tenuous narrative about Mary’s sleazy corporate-raider ex trying to take over the cafe, there’s nothing to channel the comedy, with overlong scenes lacking either the musicality that governs classical screwball, or the deadpan inflection that shapes the relentless zaniness of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker.
The performers here have undeniable energy – with Steenson reminiscent of Lisa Kudrow – but they all lean into the material and joyride it until it crashes. Ninety minutes of almost unvaryingly verbal comedy leaves you feeling like you’re trapped in that late-afternoon hangover purgatory that kicks in after Christmas dinner. Bad Santa’s anti-yule comedy laurels are safe for now.
• Cup of Cheer is available on digital platforms from 7 December.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Cup of Cheer review – overstuffed Christmas turkey | Comedy films