Story: Karen (Michele Simms) is well known in her neighborhood and even city at large, thanks to her constantly entitled, passive aggressive behavior. All over town, she nitpicks, complains, and insults everyone around her, to the point people just go along with her to get rid of her as fast as possible. As such, she sees herself as the boss in nearly every situation, even when a child tries to sell some hot chocolate at a homemade stand. Once Karen notices her neighbors’ daughter with the stand close to the sidewalk, she makes sure the stand is shut down, since it violates local business ordinances. Her behavior also has her alone as Christmas gets closer, at least until she gets some unexpected visitors at her door. She is visited by the ghost of her old boss, who she idolized, but gets a surprise message that her behavior is over the line, though she promises that Karen will get more opinions, as three more ghosts visit to give her a glimpse into the impact she’s had. Will Karen learn her lesson and turn things around, or will she simply ask to speak to the ghostly manager?
Entertainment Value: The inevitable union of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the Karen phenomenon, A Christmas Karen seems like a Lifetime holiday comedy, but it has a little more bite than that and provides some laughs, even if the Karen trend had lost some steam by this point. The narrative is fine and is anchored in the concept of A Christmas Carol, with some Karen twists and turns blended in. No surprises, but the humor is a little sharper and more pointed than I expected, though it still takes it easier on Karen than I’d like. The humor is also sometimes one note, with a focus on Karen tropes and it can be a little mean spirited, in case you need your holiday fun to be good vibes only. I had fun here though, despite the issues, as the cast is game and makes the most of the material and while the humor can be repetitive, it still earned some laughs and surpassed my expectations. The pace is fine, though it is a little drawn out in a few stretches, while production values are solid for a low budget comedic picture. A Christmas Karen isn’t going to dazzle everyone around the holidays, but I thought it was fun and give it a solid recommendation.
The cast is certainly one of the movie’s strongest elements, as most of the performers seem to run with the wacky nature of the material, which leads to some over the top fun. Michele Simms goes for broke as the Karen of the hour, in a enthusiastic and as I said before, over the top turn. Her energy level never seems to waver, she is always on and tries to dial up every line, so even mundane exchanges have some pep here. This means the humor often lands stronger than it might otherwise, since Simms is adding her high energy levels. Perhaps the jokes aren’t funnier, but she puts so much into the role, I do think it helps elevate the material in general. Simms is able to play off all of her costars with ease and to me, she was a more than capable lead performer and carried this picture quite well. I hope to see Simms in more comedies or perhaps even as a horror villain, a role I think she could shine in. The cast also includes Meghan Colleen Moroney, Rolin Alexis, Ashley B. Jones, Jill Gable, Tracy Wiu, and Simon Lee.
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