You read the plot description in that headline, and you see promise in the premise. So you figure “Why not watch one more Christmas movie,” right? What can go wrong with rounding up fractious family and having it out over the holidays at a big, “two pools” beach house?
When it comes to the Mexican comedy, “Grumpy Christmas (Una navidad no tan padre),” a sequel to “The Patriarch (Un Padre No Tan Padre),” that turns out to be the wrong question. “What can go right?” might be more apt.
The vast brood of widowed Don Servando (Héctor Bonilla) piles into a converted school bus for a trip to the coast, to the luxurious beach house of the patriarch’s daughter-in-law Alma (Jacqueline Bracamontes) for the holidays.
Every “couple” in this family — straight or gay, “secret” or public — is in trouble. Nothing like a vacation with an imperious, bossy woman with their imperious, bossy and quarrelsome dad to patch things up. Sadly, there’s barely a chuckle in this contrived, forced “romp.”
Servando has these “traditions” he wants to be sure they all preserve, even if they’re away from home. Aunt Alicia (Angélica María) “would rather not participate in your traditions.”
Her attitude towards the holiday is more remote, “spoiling” Santa for the guy couple’s newly-adopted son, banning the tacky over-decorating that Servando has passed down to his brood.
But with other traditions such as “Argument Night,” a gimmick borrowed from “Seinfeld” as a holiday “airing of grievances,” who can blame her?
And how can this half-hearted brawl between the elders help the workaholic couples resolve their differences, create commitment in the “sneaking around” younger couple who met through the family and started hooking up after (we hope) they realize they weren’t related?
I mean, of course all the quarrels/conflicts get fixed before the closing credits. But the eye-rolling ideas two screenwriters manufactured for generating “resolutions” to the many comic conflicts in this don’t produce many laughs. Or any.
How to make Alicia and Servando mend fences? Casually yank the mooring lines of the schooner she keeps docked out back (Who doesn’t?) so that it drifts out to sea, stranding them and forcing them to reconcile? OK.
Force hot Gala (Renata Noti) to realize hot Renato (Juan Pable de Santiago) is more than just a side-piece.
And so on.
Bonilla and María are veteran performers who can find laughs when there’s a laugh worth looking for in the script. There just aren’t many, aside from senior citizens toking up and doing bong hits by the pool, the posh and snobby aunt who doesn’t realize how tone deaf dressing everybody up in Nativity costumes for a creche family photo is.
Rating: TV-MA, adult situations, profanity
Cast: Héctor Bonilla, Angélica María, Jacqueline Bracamontes, Benny Ibarra, Renata Notni and Juan Pablo de Santiago.
Credits: Directed by Raúl Martínez, scripted by Eduardo Donjuan and Pedro González, based on characters created by Alberto Bremer for “The Patriarch.” A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:27