Merry Christmas: A Squabbling Family and a Murder Mystery


Employing a premise previously mined for far greater humor and suspense by The Golden Girls and Saved by the Bell, Merry Christmas depicts the squabbling that engulfs a hoity-toity New York City clan playing a murder-mystery game at a Pennsylvania bed and breakfast.

Aside from a few sketched-in remarks about their relationships to one another, Anna Condo’s film provides little background on its protagonists, instead simply gazing at their alternately awful and tedious behavior — much of it courtesy of Ted (Antony Langdon), the younger companion of matriarch Maya (Alexandra Stewart), who drunkenly spouts racist opinions to Aurelia (Angelique Cinelu) and informs the devout innkeeper that there is no God.

What’s really absent from this fiasco is a sense of purpose or an interest in character, as the participants in this weekend-getaway contest are ciphers defined mainly by their degree of obnoxiousness.

Far from a Buñuelian critique of the egotistical and self-absorbed rich, the story is merely a rambling collection of scenes in which family members act repulsively and are then let off the hook via apologies and convivial banter that, in the end, feel as sloppily tossed off as Condo’s shaky-cam pans and zooms.