Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Plot overview: Jackie Jennings has it all: a successful, hot husband, a 10-year-old daughter already studying at Harvard, a son working to aid underprivileged countries, and an early retirement plan in motion after selling her business at a great price. Charlotte Sanders is sure Jackie is exaggerating about her life and decides to expose the truth when her family ends up winding up at Jackie’s gorgeous house for Christmas.

Directed by Mary Lambert, the 2023 movie “Best. Christmas. Ever!” has been written by Todd Calgi Gallicano and Charles Shyer. Heather Graham plays the cynical Charlotte Sanders, an inventor who is married to Rob (Jason Biggs) and has two quirky preteen kids – Dora (Abby Villasmil) who believes she might be a superhero and the asocial Grant (Wyatt Hunt) whose only friend is his creepy stuffed monkey. Brandy Norwood brings in the Christmas spirit with her cheery persona as the ‘perfect’ Jackie, who does prove to be an excellent host.

While the cinematography of “Best. Christmas. Ever!” gets all palette and mood of the holiday season on point, the plot isn’t very gripping. An envious woman poking around in a friend’s house sounds like the protagonist who should be in a school/college flick for teens or young adults. And that’s really the biggest pitfall of the plot – it deals with themes that are uninteresting for kids and far too simple for older viewers. A little sub-plot about Jackie’s daughter, Beatrix (Madison Skye Validum), trying to investigate if Santa Claus is real could have been a lot more fun if Jackie wasn’t portrayed as a genius already studying at Harvard. I mean, 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper was questioning the absurdity of religion itself in ‘Young Sheldon’ while still in school. Although, a lot of viewers might find the Beatrix sub-plot amusing and Madison Skye Validum is adorable as a little curious geek girl.

Like a good Christmas film, the theme of “Best. Christmas. Ever!” is about sharing, caring, not being envious of your friends and looking on the bright side of life. Although, it seems like you’d need a millionaire friend like Jackie Jennings to help you solve some of your problems. Except for Brandy Norwood, who pulls off the “too good to be true” role of Jackie, the rest of the adult cast aren’t able to pull you into the story. The climax was predictable but managed to tug at the heartstrings, delivering the overarching message that even wealthy families face problems. Yeah, just a tiny tinge of sarcasm in the sentence. Anyway… Overall, it’s a forgettable film that you can watch while having dinner without exercising your brain.

Rating: 5.5 on 10. You can stream “Best. Christmas. Ever!” on Netflix.

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