8/10
Fair warning: this is definitely _not_ a made-for-Hallmark Christmas movie.
15 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In fact, it's more like a cross between THE FAMILY STONE (Diane Keaton's previous Xmas flick) and PARENTHOOD. Provided such a hybrid was produced/directed/written by Woody Allen!

What do I mean by such a cryptic, and seemingly asinine, statement?

Well, if you go in expecting a laugh riot from start to finish, you're going to be disappointed. The jokes I actually laughed at, as intended, are few and far between. And the serious moments can get so melodramatic, you might literally cringe and feel tempted to walk out on this flick (as I almost did). But, if you can mentally glue yourself to your seat through the latter, I guarantee you it will all be worthwhile.

Why? Because, there are actually quite a few brilliant plot twists in here!

For example, a lot of you might initially feel that Amanda Seyfried and Alan Arkin's characters are headed for a May/December romance similar to Liv Ullman and Edward Albert in 1973's 40 CARATS.

Wrong!

And, some might think that Marissa Tomei's character, a light-fingered "life coach" (which is apparently like a psychiatrist...minus the couch and drugs), will ultimately turn Officer Williams, the policeman who arrested her, into an African-American Ann Heche.

Wrong!

Some might even predict that the phantom narrator, as voiced by Steve Martin, will turn out to be merely _posing_ as one of the dozens of department store Santa Clauses seen headed to work at various times throughout this film.

Wrong!

That particular plot twist is probably the funniest one of all. And, the Xmas sing-along "blooper" reel, during the ending credits, is masterfully poignant.

So, to paraphrase what Angie tells Sergeant Joe as soon as they arrive to meet her parents (as played, almost too convincingly, by Ms. Keaton and John Goodman): "Man up, and sit all the way through this flick! It'll be worth it."
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