Every single year, it seems like there are at least a hundred new Hallmark holiday movies hitting cable and streaming services. No matter how cheesy, formulaic, or poorly acted these movies are, people can't seem to get enough of them. I'm not sure if most people are hate-watching them for a good laugh or if the holidays just have them seeking out the warmth of hammy holiday happiness and love. No matter what the reason, these movies are typically not for me. But thankfully, producers Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley have figured out a way to make these Hallmark holiday movies a little more appealing.

On the surface, the new holiday romantic comedy "Christmas with the Campbells" follows a familiar Hallmark movie formula. Brittany Snow ("Pitch Perfect") plays Jesse, whose life is thrown into upheaval when her douchebag boyfriend Shawn (Alex Moffat, formerly of "Saturday Night Live") breaks up with her just a few days before Christmas. However, since Shawn will be in New York City for the holidays, and his parents, the titular Campbells played by Julia Duffy and George Wendt, love Jesse so much, they invite her over to spend Christmas with them. (Hey, that's where the title comes from!)

Of course, while Jessie is spending time in with the Campbells in Idaho, she meets their charming, down-to-earth, outdoorsy nephew David (Justin Long, fresh off his acclaimed turn in "Barbarian"), and romantic sparks fly. But all that could come tumbling down with Shawn actually shows up for Christmas and brings all that horny weasel energy with him, along with a new plan to get back together with Jesse.

But what makes "Christmas with the Campbells" a must-watch this holiday season (check out the trailer here) is the R-rated comedic flair that makes it a laugh riot. As someone who has no interest at all in Hallmark holiday movies, I found myself cracking up again and again throughout the breezy under-90-minute runtime. This is the hilarious hidden gem of the holidays, and it's better than any of the other new releases trying to hit that Christmas sweet spot this season.

This Isn't A Parody

"Christmas with the Campbells" isn't a parody of Hallmark movies. We're not talking about a "They Came Together" skewering of these hokey holiday romances, though that's something I'd certainly pay to see. Instead, director Clare Niederpruem, who has real experience being behind the camera of cheesy Christmas movies like this, has delivered an exact replica of a Hallmark movie that has simply been punched up with R-rated laughs. The typical romantic plot, the charming meet-cute, the cookie-cutter cinematography, the generic upbeat score, the ungodly amount of holiday decorations in every corner, and a partridge in a pear tree feels like it was made by a team that knew and truly loved Hallmark movies. And that's exactly what happened.

As producer Vince Vaughn explained to Collider, they hired writer Barbara Kymlicka to write your average Hallmark movie script, something she's done several times before. Once the script was done, that's when Vaughn told Kymlicka what they wanted to do. Vaughn explained, "We're going to go through and change the dialogue, commit the characters to being more adult and the language to be more R, stronger points of view, but we're going to keep the scenes and the sequences the same." Even the below-the-line crew working on the movie had a history with Hallmark movies.

With genuinely funny additions by Vaughn himself and writer Dan Lagana (writer, executive producer, and showrunner of "American Vandal"), the result is a movie that stays true to the spirit of what people seem to love about Hallmark movies but with the added bonus of raucously funny and raunchy dialogue. It's the contrast of this clean-cut Hallmark style and inappropriate jokes that will have many mouths agape and totally surprised by the salacious things these characters say, especially when it comes Alex Moffat's horny antics, a certain nosy family "friend" who can't stop ragging on Jesse with some choice insults behind her back, and the sex life of the Campbells.

The Cast Is A Holiday Treat

Brittany Snow brings that wonderful, bubbly energy that made her a delight in "Pitch Perfect," and as the lead character who is often reacting to the more raunchy lines of dialogue, she gets the most subtle but effective comedy in the film and deserves plenty of praise for playing it straight. Meanwhile, Alex Moffat brings the same business bro energy that made his "SNL" character "The Guy Who Just Bought a Boat" such an entertaining jagoff at the Weekend Update desk. He just knows how to make every line sound endlessly sleazy, even if it's not sexual in nature.

Justin Long is the true standout here as David. Long puts on a slight country drawl, clearly emulating the kind of blue-collar, outdoorsy gentlemen who sweep ladies off their feet outside of log cabins and Christmas markets in these holiday movies. He's the kind of guy who is always wearing hiking boots, a flannel shirt, and some kind of Carhartt jacket or vest. Obviously, he has a lovely canine companion who sleeps by his side, and he's always spouting off some kind of homegrown colloquialism like, "Whatever peels your potato." But he shocks when making statements about his older aunt with phrases like, "God, if you were two years younger, we'd have to try not to get pregnant." These are the kind of funny interjections we get from characters throughout the movie, and Long plays it earnestly, making his character even funnier, especially when describing how he found out his ex was cheating on him with his karate instructor.

Julia Duffy and George Wendt also get plenty of sidesplitting scenes as the Campbells. These two have quite a healthy sex life, and they're not shy about enjoying a little bit of purple drank and spending the morning getting a little hot and heavy. Duffy and Wendt get the moments that will likely catch audiences completely off-guard when it comes to the risqué humor they exhibit throughout the movie.

Racy Laughs And A Hammy Heart

Even though "Christmas with the Campbells" has been spiced up with racy laughs, the movie has the hammy heart of a real Hallmark movie, for better and maybe for worse, depending on how Hallmark movies normally hit you. It lands all the familiar beats and doesn't try to mock the formula in question, which brings a certain charm to the proceedings. There's something about the blunt, improper humor that makes this formulaic romance easier to swallow. It's not going to convince me to watch other Hallmark movies with actors who aren't getting any other work outside of these seasonal opportunities, but if Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley want to make one of these R-rated holiday romantic comedies with a cast like this every single year, then I'll gladly watch every single one of them.

You won't regret giving "Christmas with the Campbells" a shot when it hits limited theaters and AMC+ starting on December 2, 2022.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

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The post Christmas with the Campbells Review: A Shockingly Hilarious R-Rated Spin on Cheesy Hallmark Holiday Romance appeared first on /Film.