The Christmas romance trope receives a bit of an R-rated take from some Hallmark veterans in Christmas with The Campbells from RLJE Films. Barbara Kymlicka, writer of You Light Up My Christmas, pens the film with co-writers, Vince Vaughn and Dan Lagana. At the same time, Clare Niederpruem, the director of The Christmas Bow, helms the film.
A bomb is dropped on photographer Jesse (Brittany Snow), who is taken aback when Shawn (Alex Moffat), her boyfriend, breaks up with her before the holidays. However, Shawn's parents still want Jesse to visit them for Christmas Shawn will be spending the holidays in New York due to new employment opportunities.
However, there might be some love in the air when Jesse meets David (Justin Long), a charming nephew who happens to be wearing a flannel shirt and a cozy vest while spending time in the snowy mountains of Idaho with the Campbells.
Amid Jesse's attempt to figure out what to do about the Yuletide romantic spark, the Mr. and Mrs. Campbell family have little trouble keeping the flame alive in their relationship. There is always a mix of bedroom activities between Shawn's parents, Liz (Julia Duffy), and Robert (George Wendt). In particular, Liz is a highly blunt and conscientious woman who knows what she wants sexually.
When it comes to Christmas movies, they are usually hit or miss for me. Christmas with the Campbells is no different. However, what sets the film apart is the angle that the script gives the characters. As an average woman, Jesse struggles with employment issues and dreams of photography but ends up working on Christmas portraits. Brittany Snow quickly taps into the trope, thus making her easy to root for. Concurrently Justin Long brings a friendly, everyman approach to his role.
Furthermore, you can't help but smile at Julia Duffy and George Wendt as Liz and Robert, who are all about seasonal tingles and carbs. Both veterans bring a relatable wisdom approach to the long-married couple who are all about putting on a significant show of force that culminates with a party and a light display.
I also enjoyed the subtle innuendos from the supporting character Becky (Joanna Garcia Swisher). Typically in a film like this, Becky would be the villain competing with Jesse for David. While the writers briefly flirt with the idea, it doesn't develop, which didn't bother me, particularly since both ladies get a happy ending.
While I don't foresee Christmas with the Campbells becoming a holiday classic, the film is a harmless quick watch to enjoy while wrapping presents.
Final Grade: C+
Christmas with The Campbells is in limited theaters and streaming on AMC+.