Cup of Cheer REVIEW – A Cheerless Christmas Spoof

Cup of Cheer begins on a fun note, but the fun wears off quickly after the first ten minutes.

Cup of Cheer
Cup of Cheer

The holidays can be quite hokey. It’s the time of the year where everyone gets together to build memories, only to flush them down the drain once the new year begins. This paradox has been the subject of numerous films over the years. There’s virtually no shortage of flicks that lampoon the blind optimism of the holidays. At the same time, many of these flicks are every bit as serious as they are cheesy, and that’s where their charm lies.

Jake Horowitz’s Cup of Cheer attempts to explore the holiday spirit’s craziness in an equally crazy manner. A deliberate spoof of holiday movies, Horowitz’s film takes the typical cliched Christmas story – a cynical protagonist who’s humbled by the meaning of Christmas – and mocks every aspect of it. Everything from Christmas romances to Christmas angels getting their wings is explored and ridiculed in this one.

Yet, Cup of Cheer manages to be both too much and boring at the same time.

The story centers on Mary (Storm Steenson), a young, ambitious writer for a big city newspaper. Upon returning to her childhood home, she meets Chris (Alexander Oliver), a struggling worker in a local coffee shop called Cup of Cheer. The two form an unusual bond after a rocky start, but their relationship hits a snag when a sleazy corporate executive (Shawn Vincent) comes to take over the coffee shop. Facing new odds, it falls on Mary and Chris’s shoulders to save Cup of Cheer and Christmas along with it – and there are several honorable mentions of the human reproductive system along the way.

As a spoof, yes, Cup of Cheer is supposed to be over-the-top. The film opens on an optimistic note, which leads to a typically cartoonish setup. Mary meets with her boss, who gives her an assignment while cautioning her not to “fall in love with some 8 out of 10 stranger and find the true meaning of Christmas.” Not a bad preface for the litany of goofs that are on the way.

However, the fun quickly wears off after the first ten minutes.

In classic spoofs such as the Police Squad and Hot Shots films, loud and obnoxious episodes would be followed up with something soft, albeit equally corny. This gives the audience some room to breathe and process the humor.

Cup of Cheer, however, prefers to assail the audience with a rush of gags and vulgar jokes to cover for the fact that not much thought went into it. Possibly the most notable example lies in the character of Mrs. Clovenwitch, played by Helly Chester. As the elderly owner of the coffee shop, we expect Mrs. Clovenwitch to be the sweet grandma figure who acts as the voice of reason in a Christmas story. However, Cup of Cheer turns the tables by making her exceptionally vulgar with one sexual reference after the next. Mrs. Clovenwitch isn’t alone though. The movie is replete with obnoxious characters that fail to solicit laughter. The cast does only what it can, but it just isn’t enough.

I get what the movie is trying to do – it’s a goof on all corny Christmas movies. Christmas Vacation has its share of toilet humor, and Home Alone had no problem mocking the notion of a family-friendly holiday. However, with no apparent thought going into it, the film becomes an onslaught of gags and overly-hyped characters. Maybe if Horowitz gave clearer jabs to classics such as Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story, the spoof-formula might have been more effective – but what’s done is done.

Cup of Cheer has its moments, no doubt about it, but it becomes a rather exhausting watch in a short time. Thankfully, the actors and actresses do well enough that they’ll survive this blot on their resume. The film itself will easily, and thankfully, be forgotten.

Review screener provided.

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Cup of Cheer
Cup of Cheer is a highly energetic attempt to satirize the classical holiday movie. While the premise holds water, the delivery is too much with its litany of vulgarity and incoherent dialogue. Not a holiday movie for kids, but not really for adults either.