Christmas With the Campbells is, on paper, a decent, if slightly cringeworthy idea. Spending Christmas with your former in-laws after your boyfriend breaks up with you? Hard pass. But then again, when it comes to Christmas movies, the weirdest ideas are sometimes the recipe for a lot of fun. Except, in the case of Christmas With the Campbells, there’s little to be had in the way of fun. Or romance. Or basically anything positive. The best thing we can say about the movie is that it puts us out of our misery rather quickly, thanks to a short runtime.
Brittany Snow deserves better than an unfunny script that continues to try to be edgy without landing even one joke. She’s not the only one — a movie filled with actors who have managed to make us laugh and feel in most other circumstances never quite figures out what it wants to be, and in doing so wastes everybody’s talents. It’s hard to root for anyone, or even, you know, like anyone, when the movie goes from one idea to the next without any coherency.
To make matters worse, the romance also doesn’t work, and it’s hard to tell if the movie wants it to. Of course, it’s easy to root for anyone other than Shawn, because Shawn is THE WORST. He’s so bad it’s obvious the movie is in on the joke, it actively wants us to laugh at Shawn. The problem, of course, is that Shawn isn’t that far off from a bunch of men I’ve known who think they are perfectly justified, so the joke is less than and more a cautionary tale.
Daniel is, of course, a better option than Shawn, because absolutely anyone would be a better option than Shawn. And also because he has a dog, and dogs just make everything better. But not even the dog can make Daniel truly interesting, and the movie should really give us more reasons to root for him other than “isn’t a total ass” and “has cute dog.” Our standards are low, but not that low.
There are flashes of something when Daniel and Jesse are allowed time together, and perhaps if the movie had focused more on them instead of the dynamics with the titular Campbells or Shawn, who no one was ever in any danger of liking, the movie could have come out on the side of endearing. But as nice as the former in-laws are, it’s hard to feel anything but bad for Jesse that this is where she ended up for Christmas …and worse than that, that this is what she thinks she deserves.
Sadly for the movie, the rest of the characters are about as interesting as the main three, which is to say not that much. The movie isn’t aggressively bad, it’s just not that great, even when it hits the typical holiday movie beats. In the end, there’s a bit of satisfaction in the storytelling decisions, but not nearly enough to make this the kind of movie we want to rewatch. In fact, considering how many other actually romantic and heartwarming Christmas movies there are, this is not just a skip, it’s a movie we can forget about. If you want truly bad, Netflix has “so bad that it’s good.” If you want good, there are a lot of other options. This movie has no idea what it wants to be, and maybe because of that, it doesn’t really satisfy anyone.
And you don’t even have to watch it to see for yourself. Trust us on this one.
Christmas with the Campbells is now in Theaters and Streaming on AMC+.