“If we always learned from our mistakes, nobody would ever spend Christmas with their family.”

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A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (2014)

Directed by Tristram Shapeero  Written by Michael Brown

With so many classics for the Holidays, it may be difficult as the years go on to find present films for the season that you’d actually want to see more than once. Or for that matter, something that does a good job of entertaining you but not exactly shoving some family message down your throat to regret the way you treat each other every other day of the year. Yet with this being one of Robin Williams last films with a short stack of other Actors otherwise more than tolerable, this didn’t end up making for too terrible a film for all the dysfunctional families to enjoy out there.

Having grown up with a drunk for a father, Boyd Mitchler (Joel McHale) knew that above anything else he wanted to be like anything BUT his so called role model. Becoming a successful husband and father meaning to acquire as many fanciful gifts and materialistic matters due to the neglect felt as a child. With such tactics only seeming to keep him separated from his family for the past handful of years. Though finally reached by his brother Nelson (Clark Duke) with the news of having “scored himself a kid.” Hoping he would bare the honor of being the Godfather and inviting him for the Baptism planned for Christmas Eve.

Dreadful news for Boyd, though he agrees to pack up his daughter (Bebe Wood), son (Pierce Gagnon) and wife Luann (Lauren Graham) and head out the four hours to his parents in Wisconsin. Where he grudgingly joins his sister Shauna (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and her family, father Virgil (Robin Williams) and mom Donna (Candice Bergen). Things already off to a rough patch when trying to enjoy a nice family dinner triggers his brother’s “PTSD” having acquired while in basic training; having fell off a tank, though sure to have made his father just as proud for serving his country either way. Boyd not noticing until much later that none of their presents had been packed, leaving no other choice but to suit out in hopes of making it back just before that next morning.

Unaware that not too long after leaving, he’d be stopped due to an engine failure. Forcing his father out to the rescue and starting the adventure they were sure to endure within the next eight hours. Running into a Santa (Oliver Platt) having seen earlier in the film; a dunkard whose intent merely felt as though some deranged guardian angel with an underling message for the Holiday season. Thinking nothing of the encounter at first, until familiar words rang in. Pressing on towards his house where he realizes that he had left his keys in the ignition yet also forgetting the spare left under his mat that his father locates. Breaking in to find his wife’s ESL (English as second Language) student’s family sleeping in their living room, misunderstanding the term “house sit” and on top of staying the night, presuming all the presents left had been for them! Terrible for obvious reasons yet Boyd’s main concern lying with the one present that mattered most. The one personally marked from “Santa.” Rushing back while having a last meaningful interaction with the drunkard Santa, deciding to do one favor for them and save the Holiday while obtaining the bourbon so desperately seeking for the majority of the film. In the end, the family comes together to enjoy the comfort of the true spirit of the season. Or some cliché festive crap like that.

Because the reality of the situation is that while half of us may enjoy spending time with our family and getting to be around a group of people who support your every move. The vast majority of people don’t look forward to seeing their family for one very good reason; they know them! They don’t somehow become less of an asshole by Christmas morning or learn some valuable lesson they failed to all those years back. They might just get worse or more intolerable at having taken so long to realize all the crap that you endured growing up. Or the favorite, playing pretend long enough to get past the holidays unscathed until the next time your forced to be around them.

So it wasn’t necessarily that this movie was any worse than your typical guilt trip Christmas movie wanting to make you come together for that special time of year. It just so happened to be around a time when we’ve already seen so many that it’s merely added to a list of films like Home for the Holidays (1995) or Four Christmases (2008). With certainly a more monotone feel, almost depressant in a sense but perhaps because its one of the last things I know I’ll see Williams in and realizing it could have ended on a higher note. Gilmore Girl Graham wasn’t half bad though I maintain that her time (unfortunately) has already come and gone with an expected ‘mother role’ on lock down. Platt certainly being the nice surprise for myself as you never really see him but are given just enough to know that his presence is meaningful. So, in a way I suppose fulfilling his role as said Santa. But overall, nothing that was overtly memorable. “Jeff” from Community (McHale) also not quite perfecting the formula for carrying a movie on his own at what could have been the main factor however. While a bit vaguely reminiscent of Jingle All the Way, it at least could stand on its own as another movie to check out the one time of year when you get what matters most; presents. Just kidding.

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