A Merry Friggin' Christmas (2014)

Try though he might, Joel McHale just can't break into the big screen. I've seen him try a serious role and a comedic role before, and it's just not taking. I'm sure he looked forward to the opportunity to star alongside the talented and funny Robin Williams, but a quick look at Robin's films show that he wasn't always good at picking big winners to be in. When you pick a Christmas movie about a father and son patching their troubled relationship, you're not aiming for the stars - you're aiming for Lifetime.

In this movie, Joel had a rough childhood as a result of his dad's drinking and emotional inaccessibility. Through that cloudy vision, he over-compensates for his own children, protecting them as much as possible, and shielding them from life's disappointments. This includes protecting them from his father, played by the aforementioned Robin Williams.

The story necessarily creates a situation where Joel and Robin have to solve some problems together and they are forced to confront their own tattered relationship and the causes of it. The story really is right out of a lifetime movie, and it doesn't break even the slightest bit of new territory.

The fact that the story doesn't break new ground isn't even the issue with a saccharine movie like this - it's supposed to be a comedy. Make me laugh, funnymen! With a couple of leading men that have this much comedy talent, you would expect (if not groundbreaking humor) a near constant stream of funny situations and clever quips. There really was none of it. The situations were contrived and just kind of boring.

I don't think they ever intended for this to be a Christmas classic. Nor was it intended to be a film for the ages. It was supposed to be a fun romp through the tried-and-true story of family strife and coming together in a funny way. Unfortunately, it just wasn't all that interesting, and I can't help but think of the squandered talent that was ignored for this movie. Not sure who to blame for it, either.

Acting was good enough
Direction seemed okay
Story was bland
Dialogue was good
Emotional content was lacking.

Bottom Line: Go watch The Ref. It's a better movie built on the same basic premise.

1.5/5

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