Movie Review: ‘Uncle Nick’

Review by Lauryn Angel

With a tagline like “Nobody Ruins Christmas Like Family” on the poster, it’s clear that Uncle Nick is a holiday movie about a dysfunctional family. But this family isn’t charming like the one in Love the Coopers. There’s nothing heart-warming about this family gathering.

Brian Posehn is the alcoholic and vitriolic Uncle Nick of the title. He resents his younger brother, Cody (Beau Ballinger), for his comfortable life. Cody didn’t attend college, does not have to work in the family business, and is the trophy husband of wealthy cougar Sophie (Paget Brewster). The only joy Nick finds in his holiday obligation is the opportunity to ogle Sophie’s twenty-year-old daughter, Valerie (Melia Renee). The family is rounded out by Sophie’s son Marcus (Jacob Houston), Cody and Nick’s sister Michelle (Missi Pyle), and Michelle’s husband Kevin (Scott Adsit).

The movie is billed as a comedy, and while there are some funny bits, this categorization does the movie a disservice, as it’s more disturbing than funny. Nick’s lust for his brother’s step-daughter is a central plot in the film, and paints Nick as pedophilic lech rather than the fun, drunk uncle of the trailer. In fact, the film is really portrait of a man who is struggling to find purpose in life, which is really the story of the film. We don’t find out until close to the end of the film why Nick acts the way he does, and at that point it’s almost too late for the audience to find any sympathy for him. But he is redeemable – which is an important thing to keep in mind as he performs one disgusting act after another.

The casting is perfect for this movie. Brian Posehn and Paget Brewster are particular stand-outs, as they have the difficult task of making the audience feel sympathy for incredibly unlikeable characters. Missi Pyle and Scott Adsit play off Posehn well in scenes that feel unscripted, like siblings hanging out and riffing off one another – I would not be surprised to learn that some of these scenes were improvised.
Uncle Nick gets very dark, but it’s worth watching for the performances. Just don’t go in expecting to laugh all the way through.

In Theaters Nationwide December 4th.

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