Blu-ray Review: Friendsgiving

By , Contributor
Holiday films are a tricky business, especially when they aren't about Christmas (and even then they're hard to get right). Not long before he passed, Garry Marshall made a trio of commerically successful rom-coms inspired by lesser-represented "holiday" films: Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, and Mother's Day. These star-studded affairs were serviceable family viewing material for multi-generational get-togethers. Blandly inoffensive, these festive puffballs provide necessary time-passers that everyone from grandparents to grandkids can watch (though maybe not actually enjoy, per se).

The new Friendsgiving tackles the Thanksgiving holiday from a similar angle, but this one offers a decidedly R-rate take. Molly (Malin Ã…kerman) and Abby (Kat Dennings) are besties who decide to invite a bunch of friends over for Thanksgiving rather than put up with their own families. Although Molly's flirty mom Helen (Jane Seymour) attends, stirring the pot between Molly and her ex, Gunnar (Ryan Hansen).

There are lots of drugs, drinking, and frank sexual discussion. It's a bit bawdy (not as much as it seems to think it is, honestly), so as long as everyone knows this isn't all-inclusive family viewing, it's not a big deal. But the negligent-parenting theme, played for goofy laughs, that puts a newborn in peril is a reasonable reason to be outright turned off. While Abby struggles to sort through her sexuality (she recently broke it off from her first same-sex relationship), B-movie actress Molly struggles with being a single parent to a newborn. And that newborn is endangered in a way that feels uncomfortable.

We meet a bunch of their Hollywood-type friends (it's not entirely clear why this group of bickering hipsters is actually friends with each other). There's a not-funny dream sequence in which Abby is visited by her "fairy gay-mothers," more of an excuse for cameos by Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, and someone not famous enough be making a cameo. But while writer-director Nicol Paone putzs around for an hour letting all these friends chit-chat in sitcom-y manner it turns out the crux of Friendsgiving's drama centers on the baby's peanut allergy.

Stick around to the end and you'll see the predictable resolutions to the characters' various crises. But the lead up to these involves a bit of suffering as Molly and Abby whine about their First World problems before a trip to the ER (the aforementioned peanut allergy) brings their friendship back into focus. Paone's efforts are at least somewhat commendable—in the supplementary featurette she explains how personal these characters are to her. There may be some kernels of relatability in here. And there are a few chuckles sprinkled throughout. Jack Donnelly is a highlight of the ensemble cast, playing Molly's younger rebound.

But as with virtually any comedy, reaction to Friendsgiving will vary wildly from viewer to viewer.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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