Considering that its competition includes Krampus and A Christmas Horror Story among myriad others, the promotional claim that Chris Kasick’s film is the “Anti-Christmas Movie of the Year!” is a bit of a stretch. But then again, Uncle Nick is going for more of a Bad Santa vibe than those horror offerings, so it may well deserve the prize. Starring Brian Posehn, not exactly playing against type, in the title role of a drunken wastrel with an unhealthy obsession with the young daughter of his brother’s new wife, the film is cinematic eggnog of the very spiked variety.
Executive produced by documentarian Errol Morris (there must be a story behind that), the pic largely takes place over the course of a single day. The occasion is a Christmas gathering being held in the spacious, well-appointed home of Nick’s good-looking younger brother Cody (Beau Ballinger) and his rich cougar wife Sophie (Paget Brewster). Also in attendance are Sophie’s young son Marcus (Jacob Houston) and Cody and Nick’s sister Michelle (Missi Pyle) and her husband Kevin (Scott Adsit), the latter character primarily defined by his obsession with his podcast.
Your own drunken uncle is probably more fun.
But the main thing that Nick — who’s prepared for the occasion by purchasing cheap gifts from a convenience store and plenty of liquor — is interested in is Sophie’s sexy, 20-year-old daughter Valerie (Melia Renee), with whom he’s deluded enough to believe he’s got a shot.
Mike Demski’s screenplay follows predictable, raucously outrageous patterns, with the endlessly uncouth Nick wreaking havoc throughout the get-together. But the story does take some surprising turns, including the suggestion that Valerie may actually be interested in, or at least tolerant of, her grossly obese would-be suitor.
Interspersed throughout the proceedings are black-and-white reenactments of an infamous 1974 baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians that devolved into a massive brawl, thanks to its ill-advised 10-cent-beer-night promotion. The segments add little to the story, except to provide the opportunity for more gratuitous nudity.
Speaking of nudity, Posehn literally lets it all hang out in his admirably vanity-free, very funny deadpan performance. He’s well supported by the ensemble, which includes such reliable comic veterans as Pyle and Adsit.
Failing to live up to it anarchic convictions by adding sympathetic aspects to its central character shortly before the conclusion, Uncle Nick, much like the sorts of holiday celebrations it depicts, is ultimately too strained to be enjoyable.
Production: Chris Kasick Company
Cast: Brian Posehn, Paget Brewster, Missi Pyle, Scott Adsit, Beau Ballinger, Melia Renee, Jacob Houston
Director: Chris Kasick
Screenwriter: Mike Demski
Producers: Rebecca Hamm, Chris Kasick, Leslie Lucey, Brian Posehn
Executive producers: Beau Ballinger, Gerry Duggan, Errol Morris
Director of photography: Michael Pescasio
Production designer: Adriana Serrano
Editor: Kimberley Hassett
Costume designer: Mirren Gordon-Crozier
Composer: P. Andrew Willis
Casting: Elizabeth Barnes, Corbin Bronson
Not rated, 93 minutes.