July 27, 2014

Awful Nice

Todd Sklar, 2014
Brothers Jim (James Pumphrey) and Dave (Alex Rennie) reunite at their father's funeral and learn that they have both inherited the family lake house located in Americana-riddled Branson Missouri. Jim is hoping to turn over the property to local slimy businessman Jon Charbineau (Christopher Meloni), get paid, and return home to his wife and child. He reluctantly lets Dave accompany him on the trip to Branson and they soon find that the property is not in any condition to be sold that quickly.

The modern slapstick comedy has quite the mountain to climb to achieve any kind of notable status. For every There's Something About Mary, there are twenty bad ones that are probably starring Rob Schneider. Usually it's just a bad story with bad acting with overused premises. But sometimes one can pass through by not trying go over the top and not attempt to break any kind of new ground. Awful Nice succeeds in being a 90 minute junk food comedy session that doesn't require any real heavy thinking. The simple premise pits two highly competitive brothers against each other and lets them duke it out. It wouldn't work if there wasn't some real chemistry between the two, fortunately there is. Their sibling rivalry feels very real, as if they were actual brothers and were improvising their brutal exchanges through the entire picture. From chugging contests, to arm-wrestling, to all-out physical brawls, it's the battles between the two that keeps you engaged. Of course the picture is not absent of any imperfections. Christopher Meloni's attempt at being an Elmer Fudd-sounding crook doesn't really hit the mark. In fact you never really buy into his character and just write him off as Meloni with a hair piece on. He's no Les Grossman to say the least. The Russian crime family that controls the service industry in the city of Branson feels like an unnecessary distraction at times. And there's probably one too many montages of the two brothers engaging in many senseless activities. But when they are busting on each other, the confrontations feel fresh and should pull a few laughs out of you. How can you not laugh at a grown man taking Doggie heartworm pills hoping to get high?

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