In one of his final film roles, Robin Williams delivers a funny performance as a miser who attempts to reconnect with his son, or does he?
Boyd Mitchler has lived a terrible lifestyle since his childhood, due to the fact that his father being the same exact way when he was a boy. A hedge fund manager, Boyd has married Luanne and has children, son Douglas and daughter Vera. When Boyd’s younger brother Nelson asks Boyd to be his son’s godfather, Boyd must head to Wisconsin to spend the holiday with the family. And Boyd realizes that he’s in for a shock.
Nothing has really changed since Boyd left Wisconsin. Upon his arrival, Boyd has learned his father is still the same old miserable oaf he left behind. He is the kind of man who spoils things for everyone. When Boyd finds himself upon the realization that he left Douglas’ Christmas gifts at home, he decides to head back home to retrieve them. However, when his car breaks down, his father comes to the rescue and the duo embark on a road trip that could make…or break them.
While this film will be best known these days as one of the final appearances of the legendary Robin Williams, this is actually a well-made decent Christmas film that looks to be influenced by some great holiday classics such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Carol. The film is part-road trip film and part-dysfunctional family dramedy.
Joel McHale plays Boyd as the seemingly “black sheep” of his dysfunctional family. In other words, he’s the normal one who stands out among the crowd. Robin Williams is great to watch as Boyd’s unrelenting father, who has a liking for making trouble for everyone around him. Clark Duke is pretty well as younger brother Nelson, who attempts to play peacekeeper between Boyd and their father but to no avail. Candice Bergen does well as the straight-laced matriarch who just takes everything going on in stride.
There are some very funny bits in the film that may seem forgettable at first, but they are worth mentioning. They include Oliver Platt as a low rent Santa as well as the effects young Douglas feels when he is tricked into eating a tainted jar of pickles. However, the gist of the film lies on the relationship and the constant bickering between father and older son with the hopes that the spirit of Christmas can change a family, whether for better or worse.
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas may seem like a standard holiday heartwarming film. However, Joel McHale and Robin Williams’ chemistry on the film make it their own and those who have always enjoyed the late legendary comic will enjoy this as one of his final performances.
WFG RATING: B
An Entertainment One presentation of a Sycamore Pictures production. Director: Tristan Shapeero. Producers: Tom Rice and Ben Neam. Writer: Michael Brown. Cinematography: Giovani Lampassi. Editing: Christian Kinnard.
Cast: Joel McHale, Robin Williams, Clark Duke, Candice Bergen, Lauren Graham, Oliver Platt, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Tim Heidecker.