That is NOT a Colorado Accent

That is NOT a Colorado Accent

In Christmas With the Campbells, Jesse (Brittany Snow) is preparing to go back to her boyfriend Shawn's (Alex Moffat) house for Christmas when he unexpectedly breaks up with her. "We kept the fights clean and the sex dirty" he says through a smarmy grin, but now he needs his freedom because he's about to interview for a big deal finance job that will promote him from douchebro to King Douche. Jesse is upset, but mostly because now she's missing Christmas with his family. When she talks to his parents (Julia Duffy and George Wendt), they tell her to join them for Christmas anyway, and Jesse agrees. After all, Shawn has cancelled his trip home to prepare for his interview, and she can spend one last Christmas decorating cookies and antiquing with the family she wished she had. When Shawn's cousin David (Justin Long) unexpectedly arrives for the holiday, Jesse finds herself connecting with him in a way that she never did with Shawn. But when Shawn decides to come home for Christmas after all, she'll have to choose between the man she thought she wanted and the one who can give her what she needs.

You know a movie has some problems when there is a vociferous argument in the reviews about whether it's supposed to be a parody. I'm gonna argue yes. This movie is co-written by Vince Vaughan, the parents are played by sitcom royalty, and the main leads have all made their careers in comedy of some kind. It is slavishly dedicated to the aesthetic of a Christmas rom-com: every inch of the Campbell house is decorated for the holiday, the leads are always in red or green, a city girl falls for a small-town guy with a cute dog, etc. They are really trying to be funny. It's just that they are not always succeeding. Don't get me wrong, there are some solidly weird jokes. The Campbell parents are horned-up druggies who have scheduled morning sex, and Shawn is such a douche he practically squishes. But the best part about this movie, without question, is Justin Long, who embraced the weirdness of his character and ran with it.

See that guy? He looks a pretty normal guy. He's got flannel shirts and a rescue mutt and a truck, and probably can do things like chop wood and change a tire. He's from a small town in Colorado called Mount Wilson, he has some sort of outdoorsy job. And he's got a vague, folksy accent that makes everything he says sound wise, even if it's a little glib, like "Whatever peels your potato." Then he tells you a story about his stepfather that's a little TMI, and you think, maybe he's got some weird boundaries. Then he tells his own aunt "if you were two years younger, we'd have to try NOT to get pregnant!" That's weird, right? That's a weird thing for a person to say? Then you notice that some of his folksy little sayings are actually kind of threatening, like the two separate occasions when he goes into hug someone and says "let me get my hands on that neck!" And that accent doesn't seem like a Colorado accent. In fact, while there is a Mount Wilson in Colorado, a quick google will tell you that it is not a town; it is a 14,250 ft mountain outside of Telluride that is considered a difficult hike among the sort of people who regularly hike fourteeners. And you might start to wonder, who is this guy? Is this accent real, or a thing he does when he's putting on a new identity? Is that even his dog? Is this even his family? Should you be dancing this close to him right now?

Justin Long's unhinged performance alone makes this worth watching, but most of the main players have a least one line that made me laugh out loud. The humor occasionally verges too far from raunchy into gross for my taste, and I would have liked for Brittany Snow to have more to do besides looking uncomfortable while people say weird things to her. But generally, I liked it and I thought it was a fun watch. It was a nice salty surprise among the sweet movies of the season.

I'm done with Christmas movies, but I'm obviously not done with rom-coms. Look out for more reviews in the future!