Raunchy Holiday Rom-Com Gets Big Laughs


Christmas with the Campbells spikes the eggnog with raunchy dialogue, a romantically charged narrative, and wicked double entendres. Co-writer/producer Vince Vaughn goes gleefully naughty with the standard romantic comedy plot. The premise has a dumped girlfriend spending Christmas with her ex-boyfriend’s family. His hunky cousin arrives unexpectedly and sparks predictably fly. The picturesque winter setting and genial small-town facade hide a lusty undercurrent. A good ensemble cast of Hollywood veterans has comedic chemistry when the script starts to meander. It gets a bit silly but Christmas with the Campbells had me laughing out loud.


Jesse (Brittany Snow), a sweet-natured, part-time family portrait photographer, sees a committed future with her boyfriend. Shawn (Alex Moffat), an arrogant and narcissistic accountant, has other intentions. He cruelly dumps her a week before Christmas. Their plans of spending time with his beloved parents are shattered. Shawn has an important job interview in New York City that supersedes everything else. A broken-hearted Jesse will have to spend the holidays alone.

Spirits are lifted when Shawn’s mother, Liz (Julia Duffy), invites Jesse anyway. She and Robert (George Wendt), Shawn’s father, absolutely adore Jesse. They consider her family. Jesse flies to their warm embrace in lovely Ketchum, Idaho. The Campbells and Jesse get a surprise visitor when David (Justin Long), Shawn’s blue-collar cousin who speaks in countrified one-liners, shows up. Jesse and Shawn take an instant liking to each other. They explore the town while Liz and Robert get ready for the festivities. The situation gets awkward when Shawn decides to come home. He’s shocked to see Jesse has zero desire to get back together but still wants to be intimate. Meanwhile, Becky (Joanna Garcia Swisher), the lascivious local baker, sets her eyes on David. Christmas complications arise as passions ignite all around.

Related: Violent Night Review: David Harbour Delivers Unique Brand of Santa

A New Take on Wholesome

The quaint opening gets heated fast when Shawn breaks up with Jesse. His monologue describing her boring career choices, but their spectacular sex life sets the stage for shenanigans to come. The film delights in making the wholesome dirty.

Snow, an underrated actress who’s good in every performance, reacts well to the crazy Ketchum hijinks. Jesse represents traditional family values and good cheer. Snow anchors the film from veering completely off the rails.

Christmas with the Campbells strains to fill its ninety-minute runtime. There’s a lot of frosting on this cake. My attention waned but was always brought back by the likable cast. I’ve been a fan of Duffy (Newhart, Designing Women) and Wendt (Cheers, Gung Ho) since childhood. I got a kick out of seeing them play a dirty old couple chugging Purple Drank.

Christmas with the Campbells is produced by Wild West Picture Show Productions. It will have a December 2nd limited theatrical release from RLJE Films and concurrent streaming premiere on AMC+.


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