Christmas is a time for families to come together. That’s a wonderful sentiment, but maybe some families should stay apart. The combination of deep emotional scars mixed with copious amounts of day drinking and lame gift exchanges really seems more like a recipe for disaster than joy.
That’s essentially the situation at play in Uncle Nick, a dark comedy about a fucked-up family’s awful Christmas Eve party. It’s crude, it’s obnoxious, it’s mildly funny, and tries to wrap everything up on a note of questionable sincerity.
Brian Posehn stars as Nick, an alcoholic schlub who lives alone in Cleveland and runs his dead father’s lawnscaping company. His deadbeat, but hip and handsome, younger brother Cody is hosting a Christmas party at his house, where he lives with his new, rich cougar wife, Sophie, and her two children, nerdy Marcus and super hot Valerie. Nick hates his brother, hates his brother’s wife, and really wants to have sex with Valerie, who doesn’t seem too opposed to the idea, despite the fact that Nick is played by Brian Posehn.
Nick is sort of a loud, negative shithead who moves through every room of this house spoiling everything around him like a human-shaped fart. Part of that is because he’s an asshole, but he also weilds a certain amount of righteous anger about his lame brother, who married a rich, older (though she’s played by Paget Brewster, so who cares how old she is?) woman away from her husband of twenty years, and spends his days making dumb novelty T-shirts in the den while faking fancy wine talk to sound sophisticated. He is a douche of the highest order, so it makes sense that Nick would want to ridicule his new life at every turn.
Posehn can be hilarious when properly used, but the same cartoonish physicality that makes him so striking and unique doesn’t work in situations that require a real human performance. Uncle Nick tries to be a drama as well as a comedy, and there’s something in Posehn’s voice and delivery that can never quite reach genuine. Just by saying his lines, he sounds like he’s making fun of the script, which ruins many of the film’s attempts at sentiment.
The rest of the cast is good though, particularly Missi Pyle who shows up half way through as Nick and Cody’s equally crude and alcoholic sister Michelle. She isn’t given much to do (no one but Posehn really is), but she’s easily the film’s brightest spot. I would rather watch a movie about her and her boozy husband Kevin, played by Scott Adsit.
There aren’t a lot of surprises to Uncle Nick. It’s a crude Christmas movie about a nasty family whose tensions reach a boiling point over the course of a single evening. At eighty minutes long, it gets to business fairly quickly but ultimately doesn’t have much to do and has even less to say.