The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
“I guess I should start at the beginning… that’s where it all started”
Ah, yes. The two month Christmas movie jamboree has begun. Each year, Lifetime and Hallmark are locked and loaded come October 31st at 11:59pm. Some people really dig the start of the Christmas season. I personally don’t want to look at anything jolly until December 1st, but to each their own I guess. Despite my Grinch-like attitude toward the month of November, I have to admit I’m not too angry about the fact that I have already checked off my first merry movie of the year, Cup of Cheer.
Right off the bat I was rolling. This movie kicks into gear right away and you know what you’re in for the second you see office employees slapping away at their keyboards like cartoons. In fact, I love the way the extras move simultaneously in hilarious choreography behind the primary characters throughout the entire movie. I will say however, that within thirty minutes, the jokes started to get a bit tired. The excitement of the first act and absorbing the concept fades pretty quickly. That is until the third act that picks right back up and matches the pace of the beginning. The jokes are a mix of brilliant one liners, insiders that come full circle, and incredible situational humor. Perhaps this only needed to be a twenty minute Youtube skit in terms of the efficiency of the concept, but I admire the commitment to the bit for a full 90 minute feature. With the spirit of Too Many Cooks and the body of Scary Movie, the film seems to have a hard time distinguishing which formula it likes more. It kinda becomes this confusing combination of the two. Nonetheless, I had fun and commend the filmmakers for running with both at full speed.
The plot itself is unimaginative, but that’s because the execution is full of imagination. Mary, a journalist in “the big city,” heads to a small town in the middle of god-knows-where-USA and meets a hot cocoa shop owner Chris, his brother Keith, and a peculiar British prince sent from the past, Authuh. As Mary and Chris’s relationship snowballs into something special, they inherit every iconic holiday movie trope, somewhat following the beats of the beloved A Christmas Prince movies on Netflix, along with some stuff I would have never expected. But when Mary’s ex-boyfriend shows up and tries to take Chris’s cafe from him, the group has to figure out how to save the shop. Imagine every cliche plot point from a typical Hallmark TV movie. Now imagine it's acted out by the downstairs folks in the movie Us (2019). That's Cup Of Cheer. Everything is familiar, but everything is very off. The dialogue is bonkers and it keeps you paying attention because you can’t predict what will be blurted out next.
Bong Joon-ho Has A Very Clever And Empathetic Eye For Direction
CUP OF CHEER (2020)
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
It’s difficult to pull off a movie like this without a cast that really gels with what the filmmakers are going for. I’ve seen some pretty bad parody movies where the actors all feel like they belong to different films. Leads Storm Steenson who plays Mary and Alexander Oliver who plays Chris carry the film impeccably. That isn’t to say everyone else wasn’t on their A-game. I feel like each actor fully embraced their roles, creating these organic feeling moments in a bubble of nonsense. It really seems like this crew had fun, and at the end of the day, that's what really fills my cup of cocoa.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Cup Of Cheer serves as a reminder of how important score is in Christmas movies because it conditions you to know what’s about to happen without fail. The score can be unrelenting at how cheery it is, and it never stops, but it's never to the point of annoyance. It’s always a part of the joke. There are some original holiday songs thrown into the mix by composer Braden Barrie, but the familiar nods to classic Christmas scores with a twist is the real joy here.
Basically the entire production design is an authentic recreation of every cable TV network Christmas movie you’ve ever seen: the small town rustic aesthetic with the warm colors and cheery holiday decor. As I mentioned A Christmas Prince earlier, there are nods to those films all over, but the most eye-catching one is Mary’s wardrobe. Her slouchy cable-knit beret and cashmere sweaters look exactly like the ones Amber wears, including the iconic pastel blue scarf. The props and production design played well into the comedy aspects as well, even when it’s completely random like the men’s bathroom scene and the photos of Chris’s grandma. I think another one of my favorite wardrobe picks is the 90s crewneck sweater Chris is wearing while sitting in front of the fireplace that looks just like the one in The Santa Clause that Scott Calvin roasted Neil for wearing.
I must say this movie is clever, charming, and extremely chaotic in the best way. I think this will be a perfect film to celebrate the most wonderful time in this parody of a year we've been given. If you can’t wait to start your holiday hoobie-whatty marathons, you can watch it now on Tubi!