Netflixable? Rich folks get bowled over by a “Christmas Full of Grace”

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Netflix offering some wacky riff on the holidays from Brazil. This year, it’s semi-amusing rom-com built around the comedienne/influencer Gkay, aka Gessica Kayane.

In “Christmas Full of Grace,” the bubbly, curvaceous Kayane plays an unfiltered, loud vulgarian who rom-com-plot-tropes her way into a rich family’s holiday gathering, and business succession drama.

Gkay — think Tiffany Haddish, only shorter and speaking Portuguese (or dubbed into English) — does her best to bull-in-a-china-shop her way through this formulaic film, with only occasional laughs for her efforts.

It’s a hit-or-miss variation on the “bring a stranger home to pass off as my girl/boyfriend” rom-com, as old as the cinema itself, as fresh as Ryan and Sandy in “The Proposal.”

Sergio Malheiros plays Carlos — Carlinhos to his family — one of the younger heirs to a Rio-based business empire, an overworked one-percenter who figures Christmas Eve, before theyhelicopter out to spend the holidays on his family’s estate, would be the perfect day to put a ring on his longtime girlfriend, the blonde bombshell Bebela (Monique Alfradique).

The minute he comes home, seeing lingerie scattered about their penthouse, we have our first taste of “formulaic.” Finding her in a bubble bath MUST mean there’s some paramour under the water, hiding while Carlos goes through a big ring-offering spiel.

The only amusing variation on the gag is when the hidden figure pops up through the bubbles gasping for air, she’s a dish. Bebela swings both ways.

Fleeing their flat brings no relief, only the sloppiest, most-contrived “meet cute” ever. This frantic “just got robbed” woman named Graca (Gkay) hurls herself at Carlinhos. And one whiff of his “just caught her cheating” later, she’s graciously agreed to accompany him to his family’s get-together, just to take the pressure off and lessen the “cuck” shaming.

Sure, Graca usually spends her holidays in Aspen with her family, she says. But robbed and all, no luggage or phone, she’d do him a solid. Whose idea was this? Did he even invite her?

While there, blowsy, brassy, unfiltered Graca has to fake her interest in finer wines and her skills in ballroom dancing and polo. She will be the cliched “breath of fresh air” amongst the stuff. And as the stern matriarch, Lady Sofia (Vera Fischer) is ready to announce her successor as head of the company, Graca will stand up to bullying cousin Pedro (Heitor Martinez) and assorted other snobs, boors and lazy trust funders in the family on her new beau’s behalf.

The slapstick is strained and worthy of nothing but groans. Watch the free spirt slide down the bannister, make cracks about splinters and sex and generally bury to snobs in gaucherie. But hey, if you want to avoid being labeled a meek cuckold, there’s nothing like a busty broad bragging about your “Spanky Hanky Panky” skills to buck you up.

“Sex on demand,” she complains with a wink. Carlinhos is “too much for my clothes to bear.”

The proletarian vs bougie contrast still plays, but the laughs are too tame and too few in this tepid take on a tired formula. Gkay has potential, but this was never going to go anywhere as a PG or PG-13 rom-com. She was going to have to go full Haddish-nasty for this ever to bring the brio and go with gusto to that place we know where it’s going, right from the start.

Rating: TV-PG, some innuendo

Cast: Gkay, Sergio Malheiros, Vera Fischer, Heitor Martinez

Credits: Directed by Pedro Antônio Paes, scripted by Carol Garcia. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:45

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.