When a struggling comedian reluctantly returns home for the holidays, she has to deal with her eccentric family, and ultimately faces a life changing decision regarding her brother with special needs.
  • Writer: Kevin Gilesie

  • Director: Arlen Konopaki

    • Director of Photography: Felipe Vara De Rey

    • Stars: Amber Nash, Colin Mochrie, Luke Davis, and Kate Lambert

      • Genre: Comedy

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: You know when you see something sometimes and you just relate to it ? Well there's something to be said about how a movie can connect to you and for me I think this one does that. Being an Artist on your own, trying to balance work/life situations, especially ones that are long distance, and then being thrust back into one or other because that's life, it's very relatable, truthful, and it comes from a genuine place that I think with the right bit of humor you see the absurdity of anything else and appreciate what this life gives you a little bit more. I know this is a film review and you are looking for a little more technical from me (or maybe expecting it) and I will get to that but I think a movie sometimes needs to be applauded for how it approaches its audience. This one doesn't try to overcomplicate or layer the subtext with over the top or worse yet misplaced humor. Don't get me wrong when the jokes here hit, they are very funny and well timed and well placed even within the context of this story but it's the underlying elements here that really captured me and I have to applaud Kevin Gilese and Arlen Konopaki for not letting that get in the way.  

I think beyond the storytelling though the acting really has incredible talent on display here, anchored by Amber Nash who I liked in this role as she riffs and carries us through the story arcs. I also liked how she played up Michelle's (her character) faults and flaws. I would have liked to see the shift in her arc a little more gradually and not just hit us in the face at the end of the 2nd and then not again until well into the 3rd Act. Still there's a really great moment between her and her dad (played by Colin Mochrie) in the backyard shed that I think was really nicely done and really well handled by both actors. It was nice to see a different side of Mochrie here. There is still a lot of great improv on display by him and we get the signature comedic timing and nicely placed jokes we would expect but he really has these earnest, real moments and that is quite refreshing. I know for a lot of folks Luke Davis is going to be the one that steals the screen and rightfully so, he is really awesome here. For me though this movie really would have suffered a similar fate as many of these type of films do, the ones mired in Indie mediocrity thast all fell like cookie cutter versions of themselves, if not for the performance of Kate Lambert. Her portrayal of Andrea as the younger sister to Michelle I think gives the room for Michelle's rough edges that I think would stall out eventually without Andrea. Even though I like Amber's choices for Michelle I could see how that would fade because of the choice of where the story goes and how Michelle deals with all that. Yet its a lot mor enatural and easier having Andrea there, because it gives her a bit of a cover and also enchances the opportunity for Kate to not just play up Andrea but give her the room to grow and show her character's arc. I think its a similar idea for Luke's character Mark, who I think shows a lot of growth and has some of the funniest moments in the whole movie with the both of them.  

There also a couple great supporting spots from Aisha Tyler, Caroline Aaron, Ronnie Chieng, Stacy Melich, and my personal favorite Henry Zebrowski who plays Larry the neighbor, that add to and play off of the family well. I think Arlen was smart to shoot a lot of this wider and give the actors the room they needed to improv and do all the great things comedians of this calibur do, even if it means there is going to be a little too much Indie in the look (and yes there is such a thing). The fire pit scene is one of those scenes in a comedy involving music we all know that I think will get a lot of play on TikTok and YouTube shorts. It's a great moment, which this movie is full of and like I said I love how much I related to it. 

WHY CHAMPION THIS MOVIE: It features an actor with special needs in a way that you don't get to see very often, expecially in a comedic setting. Luke Davis is a star and his talent is beautiful and there is something about his delivery crassness that endears a couple really laugh out loud moments for me but also I love how truimphant he is with it. Truly though what I think this movie really has is the grip of reality that isn't often enough seen in movies that you are supposed to laugh with and that is really something unique in this space that needs to be celebrated. I think a lot of people will relate, laugh, and smile and what more could you ask of a film to do for you.