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  Cup of Cheer Tizz The Season
Year: 2020
Director: Jake Horowitz
Stars: Storm Steenson, Alexander Oliver, Liam Marshall, Jacob Hogan, Helly Chester, Braden Barrie, Shaun Vincent, Steve Kassan, Adam Jenner, Michael Lake
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mary Nice Lady (Storm Steenson) is a writer and journalist who just wants her big break, that chance to prove herself as someone worth relying on for a good story, but thus far in her job at a big city newspaper she has not enjoyed her opportunity to shine. Then she has a brainwave: she will go into her boss's office with a great idea for a Christmas story, because it's that time of year, and that should secure her bigger stories and make her name. The boss hears her out and her plan to go back to her hometown, a small, unassuming place that will now be covered in snow as it prepares for the festivities, and agrees this will be fantastic, exactly what their readers wish to settle down with over their coffee - or cocoa, as drinking chocolate will soon loom large in Mary's life.

If only because she gets covered in cocoa dregs from a bin the local cocoa shop owner was carrying when they accidentally bumped into one another. Yes, that was a meet cute as is the law in almost any romcom worth its salt, but Cup of Cheer was going to go further than simple slapstick in its humour, as it was purposefully ludicrous, a parody of all those Christmas movies, often TV movies, that proliferate across the seasonal schedules. Someone must like them, or else why would they make so many of them? If you can tell the difference between any two, then you can consider yourself an enthusiast, but even with the comedies they were so safe and formulaic that they had to appeal to a viewer with a particular tolerance for cheese. Christmas cheese board, anyone?

Director Jake Horowitz and his co-writer Andy Lewis may have studied a great number of these efforts, the most basic, lowest imagination form of movies, or it may be they only needed to watch one, so identical were they - heck, they could even get away with watching a scene or two while channel surfing to form the basis of their script. This was not so much going for parodies of acknowledged Christmas favourites, so there was no It's a Wonderful Life in there, but they were not immune to every cliché, as there was a spot of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, except relayed with such half-hearted enthusiasm that it was as if they were well aware of how spent that set of plotlines was. However, not much else about this was half-hearted, as they and their skilled cast went all out to be ridiculous.

Not that it mattered hugely, for this was an Airplane!-style set of sketches on a theme (Yuletide, rather than disaster), but the plot had Mary returning to the old hometown to pen her article, and fall for the man who covered her in chocolate, one Chris Mass (Alexander Oliver), who owns the cocoa café. But there is a cloud hanging over them, when Chris finds his rent is prematurely due and the establishment will be closed down - on Christmas Eve! Can Mary help out and get a story out of it for her job into the bargain? There were other characters, the twinkly old lady (Helly Chester), the supportive gay brother (Liam Marshall), the time-travelling Englishman (Jacob Hogan) who wants to be shot to get back to his own time - wait, what? Cup of Cheer wanted nothing more than to make you laugh, and if you had any sense of the absurd it definitely would, it was laugh out loud hilarious in many scenes, purely because they were unafraid to be preposterous. Demented was another word you could use for it, emphasising the characters in these projects didn't act like normal people at all: although it was pretty relentless with the gags, enough of them landed to create a winner. There were heartwarming last lines, too. Music by Braden Barrie.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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