It’s officially December, which means Christmas flicks are hitting streamers at a whiplash-inducing pace. A solid majority of these films are stuffed like a stocking with genre tropes: Romantic misunderstandings and identity swaps abound, with sprinkles of grieving widows here and there, a pinch deadbeat partners added to the mix for good measure, and of course a joyous ice skating scene if you’re lucky. Anyone who is familiar with the genre will give the average Christmas film full permission to be over-the-top, corny, outlandish and predictable. A big no-no, however, is a Christmas film that is devoid of life, spirit or heart. This, reader, we cannot abide.
Sadly, these shortcomings are pretty much all that the newest Christmas release, Something from Tiffany’s, has to offer. Based on a Melissa Hill novel of the same name, the film kicks off with a classic Christmas Switch. Getting ready to pop the question to his girlfriend Vanessa (Shay Mitchell), novelist Ethan Greene (Kendrick Sampson) purchases Something from Tiffany’s: A lavish engagement ring. His proposal gets derailed, however, when he accidentally swaps gift bags with tattoo artist Gary (Ray Nicholson), who bought his charmingly earnest baker girlfriend Rachel (Zoey Deutch) earrings from the same store. Sounds like a foolproof setup for a holiday romp, right?
If you answered in the affirmative, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. After its promising setup, Tiffany’s gets off to a rocky start. One of its opening scenes can only be described as what someone who has never socialized might think a conversation between friends looks like.
“That’s hilarious,” Rachel says to her friend Terri (Jojo T. Gibbs). “What are you, a comedian?”
“I’ve been working on a tight five,” Terri replies. Their banter is off the chain!
The stiff, canned dialogue would be much easier to forgive did it not set the tone for the entirety of Tiffany’s. Every other scene is painfully contrived, desperately straining to mimic human emotions. A few examples: Ethan looks at a piece of bread and gets sad because his late wife sometimes made bread. Another bread-related instance (and one of the film’s most overt attempts at humor) involves Rachel asking Terri to get her some more focaccia—even though she already has focaccia! You get the idea of what kind of gutbusters are in store.
The characters are offered the same amount of depth as the scenes they are in. They are each provided with an average of one personality trait, two if they’re lucky. Gary is a jerk, Vanessa is materialistic, Terri doesn’t like Gary. But Ethan is a widow and he really likes bread; Rachel lost her mom and she owns a bakery.
In a film that revolves around the hope that two people eventually get together, underwritten characters are a pretty tough pill to swallow. When you hardly have any personality traits of your own, what are the odds that you’re going to have anything in common with a total stranger? Best case scenario, you’ll find yourself sitting through a 90-minute movie about two people who fall in love because they—let me check my notes—both like bread.
In addition to not offering much substance, Tiffany’s central love story is mostly void of passion or conflict. Rachel and Gary’s relationship consists of a terse string of conversations where neither offers any hint of attraction toward the other. Even during the film’s few scenes that provide a hint of passion—be it a lover’s confession or a bitter row—the actors seem like they were told to merely block the scene, unaware that the camera is actually rolling.
This isn’t the fault of the cast. As always, Deutch is an electrical force despite her one-note character. She’s magnetic, expressive and effortlessly loveable. Sampson also does a good job as the bread-loving love interest, and even manages to squeeze some much-needed humor into the film with deftly-timed joke delivery. But even though the individual actors might be fun to watch, they have about as much attraction as two magnets’ north poles.
Nobody expects all Christmas movies to be masterpieces. But it’s hard not to be disappointed by low-energy affairs like Tiffany’s, which is nothing more than a mindless attempt at adhering to the Christmas movie algorithm. Even the Grinch would probably ask for something more.
Director: Daryl Wein
Writer: Tamara Chestna
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Kendrick Sampson, Ray Nicholson, Shay Mitchell, Leah Jeffries, Jojo T. Gibbs, Javicia Leslie
Release Date: December 9, 2022
Aurora Amidon is a film journalist and passionate defender of Hostel: Part II. Follow her on Twitter for her latest questionable culture takes.