Netflix UK film review: Holiday Rush
James R | On 11, Dec 2019
Director: Leslie Small
Cast: Romany Malco, Sonequa Martin-Green, Deon Cole, Amarr M. Wooten
Watch Holiday Rush online in the UK: Netflix UK
Find a likeable star, spin some popular Christmas tunes and keep it brief. That’s the secret to a successful festive radio show, and Holiday Rush smartly abides by the same rules.
One of the many Netflix Christmas movies to debut this winter, the film follows “Rush” Williams (Romany Malco), a DJ who is riding high after years of broadcasting to loyal local listeners. But just as he and producer Roxy (Sonequa Martin-Green) try to step up their involvement in the station, along comes a large conglomerate to buy up the place – and put them both out of a job.
And so Rush is forced to find a way to support his family through the holiday season. It’s the kind of underdog story that powers such seasonal classics as It’s A Wonderful Life, although Rush’s family are far from underdogs; the challenge for them is having to adjust to a non-privileged life of wealth, after years of being well-off enough to have everything they could want. If that sounds a recipe for an unsympathetic and annoying comedy, you might be right, except for the fact that Holiday Rush’s cast are as charismatic as they come.
Malco is a wonderfully charming lead presence and manages to balance employment woes and wise-cracking DJ patter with convincing concern for his kids. Yes, he has a deceased wife he’s struggling to move on from, and yes, he has feelings for Roxy, and yes, he delivers several speeches about what’s important at Christmas not being money. But Malco’s easygoing humour and generous ability to share scenes and moments with the rest of the cast mean that most of these moments ring just true enough to keep you engaged.
It helps no end that his co-star is Sonequa Martin-Green, who is clearly enjoying herself as the ambitious producer prepared to think big enough to make a difference. Together, they make their Muppets-like quest to take on the major corporations by launching their own grassroots station a genuinely worthy cause – on the other side of the fence, meanwhile, Deon Cole is enjoyably over-the-top as villainous, selfish station manager Marshall.
The script, from Sean Dwyer and Greg Cope White, doesn’t hit any surprises along its familiar, predictable route, but that doesn’t really matter: it does, however, manage to navigate its twists and turns at a consistently fast pace – you might get a chance to roll your eyes every now and then, but you won’t have the chance to be bored, with a witty rewrite of The Night Before Christmas and a condensed Scrooge-lite subplot all motoring things along at an entertaining BPM. The result isn’t Netflix’s best Christmas movie to date – that honour belongs to The Christmas Chronicles – but, compared to the Christmas Prince sequels, this is a consistently enjoyable offering that is well worth unwrapping if you need something to accompany wrapping presents.
Holiday Rush is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.