Your Christmas or Mine? is a totally misguided holiday film with no emotional stakes or rooting interests to be found.
Yuletide romance Your Christmas or Mine? opens with its twenty-something lovers, James (Asa Butterfield) and Hayley (Cora Kirk), saying tearful goodbyes at the train station as each heads to their respective homes for holiday festivities. But something comes over the two as they await departure, and wouldn’t you know it, but they both end up swapping trains in an effort to surprise the other. What follows is a bizarre romantic comedy in which its two leads share no scenes together, instead forced to spend quality time with one another’s families and learning all sorts of secrets along the way. Yes, we are waist deep in Hallmark territory here, regardless of the Amazon logo attached to the final product, and somehow, this is even dumber than the typical output of that beloved basic cable network.
Director Jim O’Hanlon and writer Tom Parry — both veterans of the small screen themselves — instantly paint themselves into a corner by starting the proceedings off so briskly, as the viewer has no idea who these people are in the first place, resulting in each new and supposedly startling revelation landing with a thud. Indeed, it seems as though James and Hayley have literally no clue as to the person they are dating, leading the viewer to wonder if they have even spoken during the past four months of their relationship. Hayley comes across as especially cruel, the kind of individual who runs off just as her paramour is obviously about to profess his love to her, as if this behavior is charming and not borderline psychotic.
Upon arriving at James’ estate, Hayley is shocked to discover that his family is both beyond wealthy and quite literally English royalty. Meanwhile, James seems disgusted to find out that Hayley’s family is… working class — shudders — going so far as to inquire where the study is in their tiny three-bedroom flat, and looking utterly horrified when he has to use the kitchen to make a personal phone call. Hayley’s family includes a lovable lug of a father (Daniel Mays), an overly protective mother (Angela Griffin), a horny aunt (Natalie Gumede) who practically sexually assaults James upon first meeting him, and two brothers who earlier robbed James in an alleyway, because why not reinforce harmful racial stereotypes in your holiday comedy? Meanwhile, Hayley meets James’ father (Alex Jennings), a curt and short-tempered gentleman who has no tolerance for yuletide festivities following the death of his wife on that very holiday four years prior. (For the record, Hayley knew about the dead mom, so the two talked about at least one thing in their time together, because a deceased parent is nothing if not the very height of romance.)
Due to a raging snowstorm, the two are trapped at each other’s homes for several days, resulting in a lot of bonding, except not really, because each is pretending to be someone else for reasons too stupid to address here. And so, the respective families quite rightfully treat them like the strangers they are. But don’t think that stops the film from having a couple of “meaningful conversations” near its end, as each protagonist shares a special moment with one of the parental units, because both O’Hanlon and Parry clearly realized that there is literally no rooting interest or emotional stakes imparted to anyone on screen. Point blank, James and Hayley are awful people who have been dishonest with one another for months, with Hayley going so far as failing to mention to that she is engaged to someone else. She also at one point gets drunk, defies James’ father’s wishes by decorating the house for Christmas, then gets his dog shot by an angry next door neighbor. James, in comparison, almost seems like a saint, although he has a few skeletons in his closet as well, mainly pertaining to that whole classist thing, which the film grossly paints as an endearing character quirk. In the spirit of the holiday season, perhaps it’s best to be optimistic in the case of these two individuals: so long as they are together, they cannot inflict their damaging self-entitlement on any other innocent single souls. If the choice is between these two Christmases, viewers would be wise to opt for arsenic (or, you know, a different film); the end result would be far less painful to endure.
You can stream Jim O’Hanlon’s Your Christmas or Mine? on Amazon Prime Video beginning on December 2.