Christmas as Usual tries hard to be quirky, but remains middling at best.
Story: Newly-engaged couple Thea (Ida Ursin-Holm) and Jashan (Kanan Gill) head to Norway to spend Christmas with her family. Her folks have no idea that Jashan is from India, or that the two are engaged, the latter of which Thea is in no hurry to apprise them of either. As she tries to have a perfect Christmas with all the family traditions thrown in, Jashan tries valiantly to fit in. From an unfriendly family dog to Thea’s mother Anne (Marit Andreassen) and brother Simen (Erik Follestad) and family, and her ex Jorgen ((Mads Sjøgård Pettersen), there’s much that Jashan has to deal with. Can he win them over and get a prized family sweater or will his ways be a little too much for this Norwegian family?
Review: Unlike most Christmas romance movies that drop on OTT platforms during this season, Christmas as Usual does not follow the standard girl-meets-boy, they fall in love and find their happily ever after format. Here, there’s an in-love couple, Thea and Jashan, who’ve been together for a while, though not long enough to warrant an engagement, who get engaged nevertheless, and, then decide to tell her family about their relationship status during Christmas. Turns out, the engagement is not the only surprise awaiting them, as Thea had given them no indication that she was seeing an Indian.
No prizes for guessing that the rest of the film centres firmly on the cultural differences between the two. Right from Jashan calling Thea’s mom ‘mamma’ despite her insisting to be addressed by name, simply because the Indian standard nomenclature for people like her – ‘Aunty’ – won’t cut it, to him figuring out how to eat bland crunchy lard with more pig fat sauce, Amy and Simen calling him Shazam because they can’t get his name right, there’s a bunch of stuff that unfolds that’s either not palatable for them, him or both parties. What makes it worse for Jashan is that Thea’s so focused on having a perfect Christmas, as she’s always had with her folks, even when her father was around, that she also does not make him feel welcome. There’s also the ex, who lives in the neighbourhood and still carries a torch for Thea, that Jashan has to contend with.
Ida and Kanan do not have much chemistry going on, but he makes sure that his easy-going charm and repartees keep the film from falling apart at the seams. The film tries hard to be quirky and novel, but doesn’t quite stick the landing, and remains middling at best.
Verdict: Christmas as Usual is, by no means, among the best festive season films out there. It’s predictable and not even very funny despite Kanan Gill being on the cast. It’s not bad though, so, should you have some time to kill and aren’t looking to exercise your grey matter, give this one a dekko. Just don’t expect to have a warm and fuzzy feeling when you are done.