The holiday season has been lauded as a period of bliss, joy and festive cheer. But for many, the festivities can often prove to be something they dread.
It is a time when the accomplishments of the past year are shared and celebrated with loved ones.
But if you are not exactly where you want to be in your life, the festive season has a way of amplifying insecurities and highlighting shortcomings.
This is the narrative behind “Best. Christmas. Ever!”, Netflix’s latest holiday offering.
It centres on two friends who are on opposite ends of the festive cheer spectrum.
For Jackie, played by acclaimed actress and musician Brandy Norwood, Christmas is her favourite time of the year.
She loves it so much that she shares a boastful Christmas newsletter with her family and friends, giving them a glimpse into what she portrays as a highly successful and opulent family life, where achievements, wealth, and endless luck are just overflowing.
Jackie narrates to them in the newsletter about how her children are thriving to extraordinary levels, how she and her husband Valentino’s (played by Matt Cedeño) career is going from strength to strength, and that her marriage is something out of a romance novel.
But for Charlotte, played by Heather Graham, her life is less idyllic.
As a disillusioned but brilliant engineer, Charlotte was unsuccessful at gaining her dream career.
She and her husband, Rob, (played by Jason Biggs), live comfortably, but Charlotte’s prickly nature is often at odds with Rob’s optimism.
The couple also have to contend with their daughter wanting to be a comic book hero and her son who aspires to be a ninja and whose best friend is a stuffed monkey.
It becomes clear that Charlotte is not where she thought she would be at that stage of her life and after turning green with envy after reading the Christmas newsletter, a twist of fate sees her and her family mistakenly end up at Charlotte’s mansion.
They eventually decide to stay over during the holiday period and Charlotte uses this opportunity to try to prove that her friend's life is not as perfect as she portrays it to be.
The truth eventually comes to light in both a comedic yet also an emotional fashion.
To some extent, “Best. Christmas. Ever!” might be a somewhat traditional holiday movie, filled with trademark clichés, sentimentality and humour.
But it is also a story that transcends the usual Christmas narrative.
The movie puts into focus projecting insecurities onto others as it juxtaposes regret and being self-critical, with nurturing positivity and appreciating life for what it is.
It is also about concealing the bad to focus on the good as well as the enduring power of family, friendship and the magic that exists during the holidays.
There are lessons to be learnt in this movie, but there is also enough festive joy to have you softly chuckling at your screen.
“Best. Christmas. Ever!” is currently streaming on Netflix.
Here are some other new Christmas movies to get you in the festive mood:
The Naughty Nine
This Disney+ holiday flick is a Christmas tale told through the eyes of children.
“The Naughty Nine” focuses on Andy Steele (played by Winslow Fegley), an American fifth grader, who has spent the year being a troublemaker.
His antics see him being put on Santa Claus’s naughty list.
This makes Andy feel like he has been treated unfairly by Santa, so in a bid to rectify the situation, he assembles a crew with eight other naughty children.
Together, the group have a mission of breaking into Santa’s Village in the North Pole and taking the presents that they believe they deserve.
“The Naughty Nine” premieres on Disney+ on December 1.
Candy Cane Lane
This comedy/horror/fantasy Christmas movie has a star-studded cast and features the likes of Eddie Murphy in the lead role, as well as Tracee Ellis Ross and Jillian Bell.
“Candy Cane Lane” tells the story of Chris Carver, (played by Murphy), who is determined to win his neighbourhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest.
In order to emerge the winner, he enlists the help of a mischievous elf named Pepper (played by Bell).
But the elf casts a spell that brings the 12 days of Christmas, the period in Christian theology that marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the three wise men, to life.
This brings unexpected chaos to town.
At the risk of ruining the holidays for his family, Chris, his wife Carol (played by Ellis Ross), and their three children must race against the clock to break Pepper’s spell, battle deviously magical characters, and save Christmas for everyone.
“Candy Cane Lane” will premiere globally on Prime Video on December 1.