Friendsgiving tries to stuff as many crass and painfully unfunny sex jokes into a 95-minute package but it’s obvious this Thanksgiving comedy is undercooked.
Holiday movies with a wacky, dysfunctional ensemble are a staple of the genre. Their level of success largely depends on the characters and the talents of the cast.
Based on its cast, Friendsgiving should be an effortless comedy overflowing with memorable moments and big laughs. Instead, it never manages to come together settling for cheap jokes and raunchy humor that comes off more desperate to be shocking than funny.
Molly (Mailin Akerman, The Final Girls) and Abby (Kat Dennings, Thor: The Dark World) headline as two lifelong friends whose plans to spend a quiet Thanksgiving gets derailed thanks to a slew of unexpected guests.
Molly didn’t necessarily want the company as she was fine hanging with her rebound fling, Jeff (Jack Donnelly), playing dress up. Abby isn’t in such a happy place as she’s miserable after breaking up with her girlfriend.
To further ruin her Thanksgiving, Abby’s family keeps calling to remind her of why she opted against going home for the holidays. And with an aunt reminiscing about a sexual encounter with her uncle on the road over dinner it’s easy to see why Abby would prefer to be anywhere else.
The cascade of guests including pal Lauren (Aisha Tyler), Molly’s drunken mother (Jane Seymour) and her ex (Ryan Hansen) don’t make things any easier. While happily married, Lauren is thrilled about the opportunity to indulge in some drugs while her husband (Deon Cole) chaperones the kids.
Director/Screenwriter Nicol Paone abandons any pretense of subtlety almost immediately firing off a salvo of jokes that aim low and still misses the mark.
The characters have the potential to be entertaining, but Paone makes them one note caricatures like Christine Taylor’s Brianne who can’t talk thanks to a recent round of Botox.
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Character depth isn’t essential in comedies but it helps prevent the the supporting players in ensembles from being obnoxious. It also doesn’t help that Paone’s preferred style of storytelling is “aren’t these wacky characters interacting with each other so funny?” Only thing is, it’s not. At all.
This leaves the cast flailing in a futile effort to make their characters connect. Chemistry is also questionable as this crew doesn’t seem like they’d be friends let alone spend a holiday together.
Thanksgiving hasn’t been mined as thoroughly as Christmas films so there’s less competition to get in the annual viewing tradition list. Friendsgiving had a chance to be more than a slog of uninspired jokes and sight gags, but it should be banished to the teen table since it’s the audience that would most likely enjoy it.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Photo Credit: Saban Films