Merry Good Enough Image

Merry Good Enough

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | December 21, 2023

Merry Good Enough is a movie that understands that, for many people, the holiday season is a black mass of obligation and resentment. Keene’s screenplay is a true wonder. She takes a predictable sub-genre with baked-in corniness, in this case, the Christmas picture, and injects so much reality into it that it blasts the turkey right off the table. You think you’ve picked up a pamphlet, and it turns out to be a novel, a really good one. The script delves into the holiday dysfunctional family territory first pioneered by Foster’s classic Home For The Holidays and stakes a claim of its own summit.

What sets Merry Good Enough apart is the remarkable fair handedness all the characters are portrayed with. Everyone’s beef with everyone else is completely legitimate, but no one is a true villain. No one is just a type with abhorrent behavior to poke fun at. Keene instills all her characters with dimensions and idiosyncrasies not usually seen in a Christmas flick. She captures with unusual precision just how emotionally complicated the holiday corridor can be. Nothing here is simple because nothing in life is simple. There are heights of grittiness achieved here by Keene asking good questions instead of having all the answers. I will be looking forward to whatever she writes next, as she is radar-worthy.

Everyone’s beef with everyone else is completely legitimate, but no one is a true villain.”

Also, we have dozens of December details that many will do a double take over. The realistically overstuffed fridge at Gallagher’s house is the spitting image of my stepmother’s fridge in Maine, right down to the random cans of Poland Springs seltzer plugging gaps. It is downright eerie how many painfully familiar elements usually banished from the holiday realm are here to be recognized. Nowhere else is this more apparent than with Gallagher’s stellar performance. The richness she brings to the character is remarkable, as she instills reflexivity where others would resort to buffoonery.

Murray is pitch-perfect as the dad, bringing amazing depth to a parent who is always trying to pivot to the surface level and stay there. I was truly surprised by Clinton’s stupendous work here, as the Cynthia character was the most at risk of being the overachieving stuck-up sibling in so many other family dramas. Desmarais is also notable as he gives a lot of emotive heft to a part that is primarily comic relief. Astoundingly, Spielberg manages to side-step the hometown hunk mold and come across as a real person. It is Levine who deserves the winner’s reef in this holiday horse race. She is relatable complexity personified, with many out there left blinking that such a realistic performance made it into a Yuletide flick.

If you are drowning in the whipped cream froth of traditional holiday fare and can’t find a movie that reflects your difficult feelings about the time of year, then Merry Good Enough is the best gift you could give yourself this season. Trust me, this is going to be the star that will get you straight outta your Bethlehem blues.

Merry Good Enough (2023)

Directed: Caroline Keene

Written: Caroline Keene, Dan Kennedy

Starring: Raye Levine, Susan Gallagher, Comfort Clinton, Daniel Desmarais, Joel Murray, Sawyer Spielberg, Sophie von Haselberg , Marcia DeBonis , etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Merry Good Enough Image

"…the best gift you could give yourself this season."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Raye levine says:

    Thank so much for the thoughtful and meaningful review. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon