Merry Xmas

By Boman Modine | Comedy
A mischievous father tells his busy children that he's getting a divorce.

An elderly father calls his son Abe on the eve of Christmas, telling his busy son that he and his mother are getting a divorce. Upset and alarmed, Abe calls his sister Sarah, who's on another continent altogether in Hong Kong, and tells her the news.

Horrified by the news, both are reeling that the equilibrium of their family is falling apart. Though they're both in far-flung locations, they decide to fly home to confront their parents and stop the divorce, bringing the far-flung family together, perhaps for the last time.

Written and directed by Boman Modine, this energetic, nimbly directed short family comedy explores the impact of possible divorce on a family that's already been scattered apart from the wear and tear of everyday life. The two adult children are wrapped up in their own lives, but they get jolted out of them as news of the divorce ripples through. As Abe calls Sarah, we get the sense that the two rarely speak, partly due to the time difference and the busyness of very different lives.

Well-written and witty about the ways we can be self-absorbed even in the face of personal tumult, the film is essentially a chain of phone calls leapfrogging from one location to another, made visually dynamic by emphasizing the drastically different settings for each character. The effervescent pacing highlights fantastic performances, which is to be expected, considering its top-notch cast.

Featuring highly-regarded actors like Dick Van Dyke, Valerie Harper, Glenne Headly and Matthew Modine, they don't all share the screen at once, but it's easy to believe they're a family, thanks to the great dialogue delivered with a blend of spikiness and familiarity that characterize a close family that nevertheless is drifting apart. Van Dyke in particular has a particular charm and elan as the father, and with a certain innocuous mischief in his manner, he shows us just why he's a screen legend -- and how he can still flex his authority as the patriarch of this unruly clan.

As he celebrates his sly coup with his wife, we can't help but wish we could see the result of all his good-natured scheming, though we feel the anticipatory warmth and happiness of a once splintered family coming together soon. Dedicated to dysfunctional families all over the world, "Merry Xmas" is charming, entertaining and fun, making it a sheer joy to watch and a warmhearted tribute to the importance of gathering, togetherness and shared memories.

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