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christmas with the campbells

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‘Christmas with the Campbells’ review: Trademark Hallmark Christmas cheese spiced up

Blue Christmas.

Christmas with the Campbells is just like any other Hallmark Christmas movie. Jesse (Brittany Snow, X) is dumped by her boyfriend Shawn (Alex Moffat, Saturday Night Live) right before Christmas. Things become even more complicated when Shawn’s parents decide to invite her over for the holidays since Shawn is not going to be around anyway. While there, she meets Shawn’s cousin David (Justin Long, Jeepers Creepers), and as if on cue, they begin to fall for each other. Shockingly, Shawn shows up and plans to win Jesse back.

Even though it is not a Hallmark movie, it makes sense that it would sound like one. Director Clare Niederpruem and co-writer Barbara Kymlicka have both worked on films for the channel. The difference between Christmas with the Campbells and any of the innumerable holiday romantic comedies found on Hallmark is Vince Vaughn (Freaky) helped punch up this script. Though it has the comforting premise found often this time of year, it is not always family friendly.

Christmas With the Campbells does not double down on the raunch and toilet humor. While there are plenty of naughty jokes to be found, the film does not do away with all of the nice. In a decision that borders on parody but never quite crosses the line, it is a strange mix of naughty and nice. The plot is sweet and goes in the expected directions, whereas the jokes are laugh out loud funny and do not pull any punches. It is a far cry from the sanitized fare that play throughout households during December.

The entire cast do a wonderful job, but it is Justin Long that stands out the most. After playing two similar characters in House of Darkness and Barbarian, Long goes in the exact opposite direction in Christmas with the Campbells. Much like the actual movie, he is almost playing a caricature of a rom-com lead. He has the good looks, charm and the folksy good manner, but this does not prevent him from making completely inappropriate comments.

There are plenty of romantic comedies to choose from during the holidays. Christmas with the Campbells throws its name in the hat by changing the look and feel very little. The softly lit camera shots and score will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a Hallmark Christmas movie. Instead, it adds racier jokes and more adult moments to bring its a different take on a popular genre.

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