Vince Vaughn
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Vince Vaughn Dishes On His R-Rated, Hallmark-Style Film, 'Christmas with the Campbells'

Ever wondered what an R-rated version of a Hallmark Christmas movie would be like? Wonder no more, because funnyman Vince Vaughn has delivered just that with his new holiday rom-com, Christmas with the Campbells, premiering Dec. 2 in theaters and on AMC+. 

Vaughn was joined by his co-producer and real-life best friend Peter Billingsley (that's right, Ralphie from the Christmas Story films) for a wide-ranging conversation with Collider. The comedy duo talked their recent holiday fare and a possible sequel to Vaughn's 2004 blockbuster Dodgeball. Oh, and Vaughn revealed what Hallmark said about his irreverent take on the holiday genre. The network's reaction was, well, say the least.

About Christmas with the Campbells

Christmas with the Campbells stars Brittany Snow (Hairspray) as Jesse, a big-city girl who gets dumped by her (grating) boyfriend Shawn (SNL's Alex Moffat) right before the holidays. Even so, Jesse spends Christmas with Shawn's family while he's away, hitting it off with his charming cousin, played by the always-excellent Justin Long (Barbarian). 

It sounds like a heartwarming holiday romance - the kind of film you snuggle up to, armed with hot cocoa, for a cozy night in. And it is that kind of festive romp, only it's got a serious potty mouth. The characters are completely unfiltered. They're cruel to one another, they swear and they tell a lot of dirty jokes. Like, a lot. So, yeah. Might want a shot of Bailey's in that cocoa. This is not your mother's Christmas movie. 

"It's a Hallmark movie, and then all of a sudden it's like, 'Did the mom just say that, or did they just do that?'" said Vaughn, who's been noodling over the idea for a dirty Hallmark-style film for a while. The network's uber-successful Countdown to Christmas programming is consistently the most-watched TV from October to December every year. The idea was to take the Hallmark structure, sap and all, and inject some adult humor into it, retaining what makes those films so beloved: Their dogged commitment to hope and a happy ending. 

"The making of it was interesting because we knew that we wanted to play around and make it R, but we like Hallmark movies from the point that if you watch it, you can get caught up and kind of feel warm and go, 'Okay, that does feel good,'" said Vaughn. "So we weren't doing a kind of parody or mocking it. We were just making the characters accelerated."

Behind the Scenes

'Christmas with the Campbells' cast premiere

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Vaughn and Billingsley wanted to keep the look and feel of a Hallmark holiday movie, so they stacked their cast and crew with Hallmark veterans, starting with director Clare Niederpruem (A Royal Corgi Christmas, The Christmas Bow). Then there's Vaughn's co-writer, Barbara Kymlicka (Winter Castle). Julia Duffy (Christmas at the Plaza) stars as the hilariously profane Campbell family matriarch. The film's cinematographer, editor and composer have all worked on Hallmark movies. 

The result is a classic holiday romance (girl meets boy, and the two circle each other until the final act), but with a bite. And, according to Billingsley, the crew members with Hallmark experience had been waiting for a project like this: "They said that for a long time, secretly, they had wanted to do a movie like this where the characters are allowed to break and say things that are kind of on all of our minds when you're going through a breakup in these moments," said Billingsley. 

Hallmark's Reaction

As for Hallmark, the network was gracious about Vaughn and Billingsley's homage to their sugary house style, and, in a shocking twist, it turns out Hallmark itself had considered making R-rated versions of their holiday programming in the past. 

"We called Hallmark after making the movie and told them about it because we're not mean-spirited or looking to do a parody. It's really kind of a celebration, if you will, of keeping the love of Hallmark, but just making it adult and R, and they were super excited," said Vaughn. "They said they had thought about this, obviously, this type of movie before and that they were glad that we made it." Glad that they made it?! Is there a Hallmark After Dark in our future?

Christmas with the Campbells marks Billingsley's fifth holiday-themed film. Most recently, the actor, producer and frequent writer reprised his iconic role as Ralphie in A Christmas Story Christmas (now streaming on HBO Max), a sequel to the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story. Sequel ideas had been swirling for years. For Billingsley, the key was landing on a new story that felt true to the spirit of the original film. "It's been a while that we've been working on it, and we didn't feel comfortable saying yes until all the right pieces fell," said Billingsley. 

When it comes to his beloved comedy classics, Vaughn agrees that sequels are tough work. Fans have been clamoring to revisit Wedding Crashers, Old School, and Dodgeball for years. While there have been sequel discussions, nothing ever stuck. However, Vaughn hinted at a potential Dodgeball reboot: "I had an idea that I thought was kind of a fun way back into that," said Vaughn. "So, there might be the writing of a script where that's concerned."

Fingers crossed! In the meantime, an adult spin on holiday comfort food is just the stuff. *Winking in Hallmark's general direction*

Christmas with the Campbells premieres in theaters and on AMC+ Dec. 2.

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