Movie Review: Brittany Snow and Justin Long spend “Christmas with the Campbells” in Ketchum

“Christmas with the Campbells” is a soft-and-squishy Christmas rom-com that tries ever-so-hard to be “edgy” when it oh-so-obviously isn’t.

Yes, there’s amusement in seeing that effort. Some. I mean, Justin Long attempting a folksy drawl as the outdoorsy nephew to his randy aunt (Julia Duffy) is cute.

“Gawd, if you were two years younger we’d have to try NOT to get pregnant.”

Duffy, playing up the elderly hair-dresser determined to keep sex on a schedule with her retirement-ready accountant husband (George Wendt) but getting into this banter with the nephew, is just as cute.

“That Wrangler butt’a yours is driving me NUTS!”

The M.O. here is to take your typical sappy snowy holiday romance, park “Pitch Perfect” Brittney Snow in it as put-upon and just-dumped by a vulgarian (“SNL” and “Home Economics” vet Alex Moffat) damsel, and have her pursued by his more down-to-Earth cousin (Long), throw in a lot of off-color remarks and jokes at it to see what sticks.

Vince Vaughn is one of the credited writers here, so the dialogue’s flip and profane when it isn’t being all sad and stiff. But one wonders if, along with the f-bombs dropped for shock value, Moffat’s little out-of-nowhere stunt-fart was in that script.

The set-up — Jesse’s a Chicago photographer and Petco part-timer hooked up with accountant on the make Sean (Moffat) who dumps her right after his mother’s renewed her invitation to Christmas in Ketchum, Idaho. Sean’s ready to move to New York and move on, with his no-big-deal spiel all worked out.

“We kept the fights clean and the sex dirty, and neither one of us were unfaithful — as far as you know…”

But Mrs. Campbell adores her antiquing, cooking and kvetching buddy Jesse and insists she come to Idaho anyway. Her nephew from out of town (Long) shows up, with his pick-up and his adorable Australian shepherd. They’re all set to get tongues to wagging in this gossipy small town when Sean changes plans and shows up as well, not knowing Jesse’s there.

AWK-ward. But not really that funny.

And yet Long, sounding as if he’s improvising a lot of his cornponespeak, goes for it.

“No need to hang your laundry out here in front of me. That’s YOUR Dairy Queen!”

Complimenting Jesse’s sparkly party dress — “You like like a disco ball made sweet love to a shootin’ star.”

Why, it’s enough to make a gal blush.

Everybody here has been around long enough to create personas that they lean into even as they try to mix things up a bit. The twist here is that the oversexed Idahoans are the ones who put the “Ho” into “Ho Ho Ho,” and the city gal and the nephew are the outsiders a tad rattled by that. But it doesn’t really play or pay off with big laughs or light tugs at the heartstrings.

Still, I suppose nothing says “Christmas” like a lot of “small town” folks, including the 70somethings, flirting and propositioning and nagging each other about sex in the most explicit fashion. To some people anyway.

Rating: unrated, lots of profanity and sex talk

Cast: Brittany Snow, Justin Long, Julia Duffy, George Wendt and Alex Moffat.

Credits: Directed by Clare Niederpruem, scripted by Barbara Kymlicka, Dan Lagana and Vince Vaughn. An RLJE release.

Running time: 1:28


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.