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Why is Christmas movie The Holdovers being released in January?

Why is Christmas movie The Holdovers being released in January?

Wassup here, a Christmas film coming out in January?!

Most peculiar, isn’t it. The Holdovers was released in the US in October, accompanied by a poster with the tagline ‘Discomfort and joy’ and its three stars Paul Giamatti,Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa pictured inside a smashed bauble. All very festive and timely for the holiday season. But British release scheduling for American movies is a dark, mysterious art and this delay is baffling.

Indeed. And that’s gonna look a little odd on billboards across London long after people have taken down their decorations and eaten all the Quality Street.

Well, wisely there is a boring new UK poster that’s been purged of Yuletide references.

Dominic Sessa, Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers (Seacia Pavao)
Dominic Sessa, Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers (Seacia Pavao)

And the film itself, is it going to chime with audiences 11 months before Santa next pops down the chimney?

Absolutely, because it’s not really a festive story. Director Alexander Payne is reunited with his Sideways (remember that cracker of a movie?) star Giamatti, who plays a curmudgeonly history teacher at a New England boarding school in 1970 who is forced to babysit the students who have nowhere to go to for the Christmas holidays (aka the holdovers).

That, er, kinda sounds a little Christmassy…

Well the story isn’t. Sessa is the belligerent young boy abandoned by his mother for the break, Randolph plays the cook and housekeeper still mourning the death of her son in the Vietnam War, and it’s the awkward misadventures of these three mismatched misfits that creates, for me at least, a perfect movie.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Female Actor at the Golden Globes (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Female Actor at the Golden Globes (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Perfection? You’ll need to justify that…

Okay. Zero schmaltz, downbeat while being ultimately uplifting, outstanding performances (as acknowledged by Giamatti and Randolph’s recent Golden Globes wins). And the screenplay is just line after line of zingers that would leave most writers on the planet flailing at their keyboard with envy.

So it’s a comedy?

Euch! How belittling and reductive a word for a film like this. And don’t get me started on the Globes awarding Giamatti his gong for "best musical or comedy" role as opposed to "actor who was as good as, if not better, than Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer", because he goes far deeper than just laughs. Although this does contain the funniest penis cancer joke you are ever likely to hear.

Great, I haven’t heard a decent penis cancer joke for soooooo long. So all is hunky dory then, a non-Christmassy Christmas movie coming out at completely the wrong time of year that everyone is going to adore regardless of the vagaries of film distributors.

And whether it wants to be or not, probably a future Christmas classic too...

‘The Holdovers’ is in cinemas from 19 January