In the tradition of such cinematic staples such as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE BIG CHILL and CLERKS, director James C. Ferguson brings you his black and white version of a Christmas story about faith, friendship, and foul language in HAPPY HOLIDAYS.
The style of this movie is very simple and straight forward, with no flashy camera moves or special effects. The flick is basically a series of two and three person shots also with the occasional walk and talk. But don’t let the simple style of this movie influence your opinion of its substance. James packs a lot of story into an hour and forty-three minutes of two-toned cinema. The story is set in New England on Christmas Eve when, by chance, three old high school friends reunite after a series of happenstances in their lives. Patrick Donovan (Paul Hungerford) is a gay pet groomer who lives in his childhood home with his partner. Alden J. Winslow III (John B. Crye) is a commitment phobic friend of Patrick’s who comes to stay with him for a few days due to some domestic trouble with his girlfriend, who recently asked him to marry her (he refused). Their friend Kirby (Thomas Rhoads) is a skirt chasing teacher who’s father had just past away and who is in the process of dealing with that and some other issues in his life.
Being that it was shot in black and white there were certainly some issues with lighting. Some of this most likely was a budgetary concern and really only noticeable in a couple scenes (the school gym in particular). The outdoor shots and even the stills during the movie’s opening credits looked great. And the director did a great job conveying that feeling of a New England winter. The sound was done well and I particularly enjoyed the soundtrack (especially the opening credits music).
The script in this movie is quite good, and the dialogue definitely feels realistic. The only comment on this is that sometimes it felt like it was taking awhile to get to the point of the scene. Not necessarily a deterrent for the average viewer, but it was noticeable to me. The movie certainly flowed well from scene to scene as we followed the characters on their journey as they rediscovered their friendship, and worked on getting over their hangups with each other, as well as themselves. It’s very much a feel-good holiday movie that, even in the heat of July I found myself enjoying.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS is currently available at iTunes, IndieFlix, Youreeeka!, Indiepix, CinemaNow and Eye Soda.