Saturday, December 10, 2016
UNCLE NICK (2015)
Directed By: Chris Kasick
Written By: Mike Demski
Cinematography By: Michael Pescasio
Editor: Kimberley Hassett
Cast: Brian Posehn, Paget Brewster, Missi Pyle, Scott Adsit, Melia Renee, Beau Ballinger, Joe Nunez
Lewd, drunken Uncle Nick stumbles his way through his brother's cookie-cutter family's annual Christmas gathering in the hopes of hooking up. Presented by Errol Morris, Uncle Nick is a comedy of inappropriate behavior, uncomfortably interrupted trysts, and a monumental over-serving of ten-cent beers.
This film was quite a surprise. The film is toe a character comedy rather than a comedy built upon comedic set pieces. It could almost be a theatrical piece
This is a film that is best to discover going into blind. It doesn't hold many secrets. Though maximum enjoyment can be had by not knowing anything other than the tag line.
Though a lot is discussed in this review that could be considered spoilers. So I would highly suggest reading this afterwards. The film is a dark comedy that barely comes up for air. As it focuses more on it's dark side than belly laughs. The humor comes more from the characters and their reactions to basic things rather than actual jokes. Thar realistic human nature might be why documentarian Errol Morris chose to present and produce this film orhejust has a weakness for dark humanistic comedies.
The filmmaking is noteworthy as throughout the film the main character is narrating a story of the true event of the 10 cent beer night baseball game in Cleveland between the Texas rangers and the Cleveland Indians. As he narrates the tale it also introduces scenes and gives titles to them. as well as a kind of premonition as to what will happen next. As we also see recreated scenes of what he is telling. Is about the crowd and the game. This aspect of the film has a sweet pay-off.despite how vile and ugly it gets getting there
The director also takes time in certain scenes to line up the actors and to take group portraits. Depicting them in more classic and respectable poses of togetherness.
Comedian Brian Posehn really shines here in. A film that seems to match his humor. Though he has had supporting and comedic small roles before. This is one of the few that allows him to have range and truly stretch into a fully realized character. Giving another comedian a chance to test his dramatic skills. As this film keeps walking the line between comedy and drama. One of the first and rare times he gets to play a lead and passes with flying colors. The script was written with him in mind
Though we pretty much get to know all about his character. As he says what he means and doesn't care about hurting too many feelings. He actually becomes a character we care about and feel sorry for. Especially as we begin to learn more about his burdens. Though there is no doubt he’s a creep. As he drolls over a teenage girl who safely is twenty to be legal, but still on the verge. That might bring up AMERICAN BEAUTY comparisons.
Here his character is dysfunctional and a sad sack cynic. Who seems to know his issues but chooses rather to complain rather than deal with them. His grand mission throughout the film is more to seduce his step-niece who seems very open to the idea. The hardships he has gone through have come back to having him own up to them as he is acknowledging it and doing something about it. Not that he is all of a sudden a new and reformed person. Though still a film with a slovenly gross older man lusting after a much younger woman in a rare realistic scenerio that seems to only happen in films.
So that the film in a way truly is a dark holiday comedy in the downward spiral of human behavior of films such as BAD SANTA and THE REF all also set around the holidays. Though usually In these more cynical types of movies it involves a destructive outsider interacting with strangers and changing their behavior or truly showing how bad they are compared to his more innocent acts of misbehavior. Here he is bad. Though not the worst and the film gives us an explicit action for why he is the way he is. So that he is worn down and has a sense of humor about his misery. The thing that he is women up to more is that while he seems to think he is getting by. He is slowly becoming aware of how much he is a burden or dependent on others with no apologies or sense of gratitude for them going out of their way for him.
Which truly is the strength of this film is not only exposing the intimacy of family and their relationships towards each Other even in a blended family Coming together, but also the hidden jealousies and resentment. As the film goes along we get to see the various secrets, lies and problems that slowly come to the surface as the day goes along.
The film doesn't have to look far to present a villain in the character of his brother. Who seems to have never had to work for anything and lucked into everything in life. He has the villainous long hair in a bad annoying style to prove it. At first the film paints him as a jerk who is trying just aloof to most things. Though as the film goes along it exposes him more and more. As a bully and a leech of sorts. What the film offers is quirky characters and a film that has many subtle layers. the whole endeavor ends up more affecting than you would expect.
Melia Renee is good as the daughter. The source of seduction a more appropriately aged Lolita. Who seems to revel in her role and knows the power of her looks and age. Though st times shows a certain fragility and weakness. Cracks in her armor. That ultimately by the end leave her an almost tragic character. Who you can understand but have a bit of a hard time feeling sorry for.
Take for instance the scene where the daughter is having sex with someone she shouldn't. There is no joy in her face it seems more like she is just so used to it she just goes along with it as it is routine. As throughout the film she seems to like the attention men throw at her. It makes her feel flattered and Important, but once they seem to get what they want and she is more than willing to do it. She seems disappointed as it is never what it is cracked up to be. Though she might see nick as something and someone new the opposite of what she has already had. As she has grown used to what that and see's it has some perks but is unfulfilling.
Though the film is also telling in the scene where he has an emotional breakdown and runs away and can finally have what he desires. It begins creepily as he seems to be lecherous, but then she seems to take control and be forward and when he finally refuses she seems hurt. This is one of the few times she has been rejected and by someone she either generally likes or seems to be giving sympathy to. That might be why she looks so disappointed later or the reason why she ultimately does that as kind of a consolation prize. She was hoping for something new rather than the same old thing.
Then again maybe I am examining the film a bit too much. As I really am quite surprised at how much the film grabbed me and made me cares I like that the film deals more with real people as characters. No one is ridiculously successful or rich. Most of them are blue collar. Each of the characters has their faults but most come off as human than caricatures. Each has a story line they they must follow and the most regular basic characters in the whole film are the middle aged couple who work retail and work hard for the little That they have and are still positive and hopeful. Played by an unrecognizable Missi Pyle and Scott Adsit. Who both do very little but come off decent and in a big way.
The third act has a natural progression and instead of tying everything in a neat little bow it shows the results of the consequences the characters have chosen. Paget Brewster really excels In These scenes as her perfect dream life comes crashing down. Where we truly find out what she sacrificed to get to where she is and now realizes how much she has lost. It is a comeuppance of sorts, that she might well deserve but you still feel sorry for her.
Though by the end certain characters are still haunted and paying for their mistakes. The characters who are worth it and interesting are left with some hope. So that the film doesn't come off as hateful totally. It treats situations how they are. It leaves the characters to figure it out and handle it.
The film works as it is more a work that could easily be a gross out comedy that exploits, but chooses to be more subtle about itself and presentation. Which truly works and sets it apart. This is a film with bravery and good instincts. That has a good amount of vision that does focus on the nasty, ugly cruelty that can come only from those you love. Instead of being full of reasoning and heart