'92 skybox alonzo mourning rookie card, alex rennie, awful nice, branson, christopher meloni, funeral, hamm's, hari leigh, james pumphrey, keeley hazell, kerry barker, laura ramsey, missouri, sibling rivalry, sxsw, todd sklar, yakov smirnoff
Imagine yourself, your father just having died. You are tasked with finding your brother who has been off the grid for some time to bring him home for the funeral. When you finally track him down, you find him naked and passed out in a tee-pee on a Native American reservation. What are your thoughts? Something like, “This is going to go well” ? Probably not. And that’s precisely the situation Jim Brouillette (James Pumphrey) finds himself in. His brother Dave (the fucking hilarious Alex Rennie, who co-wrote the film as well as the short film ’92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card on which Awful Nice is based), is the family screw-up who has never been able to hold down a steady job or create anything remotely resembling a life for himself. He and Jim are polar opposites and that’s what makes their relationship so damn funny. Jim is married, has a 4-year old son, has published a book and holds a steady job at a university. His only care in the world outside of these things is cheering on the Minnesota Twins. So when his world is toppled so that he and Dave can go sell their Dad’s lake house that he left them in his will, he doesn’t react terribly well.
Of course lingering family issues bubble to the top, mostly about how Jim is the golden child and everything has gone easily for him. In one of the funniest scenes in movie (of which there are quite a few), the two brothers come to blows, both verbally and physically after having a chugging contest at the dinner table essentially ruining their father’s funeral.
To anyone who has a brother and feels remotely competitive with him, this scene really hits home. So, once they decide to make the trip to scope out and sell the lake house, it’s road trip time, which takes on another set of humorous interactions and fights, sibling rivalry at its finest. Once they get to the house, however, they realize that the trip is not going to be a wham-bam-thank you-ma’am effort. The place is trashed, fallen victim to squatters and it really needs to have some work done in order to get it in shape to be sold. After consulting their father’s good friend and business partner, Jon Charbineau (a wonderfully hairpieced Christopher Meloni), they decide in lieu of having actual contractors fix the place up, that they will honor their father by working together to get it ready. Needless to say, this goes horribly and hilariously awry.
I love movies about brothers. I always have. I have a very strong relationship with my own brother and we were fortunate to never really fight with one another while growing up. So I always get extra laughs out of seeing those that do because it is such an anomaly to me. And the relationship between Jim and Dave in this films is so extreme that it begs you to laugh at them. Dave dedicates such a tremendous amount of energy antagonizing Jim and pushing him over the edge that he narrowly misses pushing the relationship into ridiculous territory. This is where execution is everything. Alex Rennie is the star of the show as he is able to bring the seemingly normal and well adjusted Jim to his level…and trust me, this is a level is at the bottom of the barrel.
Literally every interaction Dave has with another human is rife with nihilistic sarcasm (is this even a thing?), but his resolve never wavers. He is true to his nature and that I appreciate. While the general conceit of the film is flimsy, I didn’t even care because I just wanted to see these two scrap over every single little detail of whatever task was at hand. That Dave was able to raise the bar of absurdity each time made it all the better. And to put this out there, I would watch the hockey scene in this on a continuous loop for the running time of this film. So. Damn. Funny. And it warms this heart to see Dave shotgunning multiple cans of Hamm’s throughout the film. That, too, is a HUGE selling point.
This is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in the last year and despite its missteps, I would gladly recommend this one to anyone looking for a laugh. This film brings the funny at every turn. Is it excessive? Yes. Is it low-brow? In spots, perhaps. Does that change its comedic value? Hell no. So grab some beers and get ready to shotgun because you won’t be able to help yourself after watching this one.
Here’s the trailer:
Also, be sure to check out my review over at Cinemit.com!