My wife wanted to watch a Christmas-y movie, but since I wasn’t feeling like watching a holiday movie so I went to Netflix. The movie they were pushing on their main banner had Tim Allen, who surprisingly has not disappointed me with a movie or show yet. So we watched the trailer only to find out Dax Shephard and Vincent D’Onofrio were also involved and are usually entertaining. My response was along the lines of “why not?” and we started this unconventional Christmas movie not knowing what to expect. Without further ado …
I would give it 4 “Tim Allen ‘F’ bombs” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
A stranger visits a small town looking for his father only to be picked up by some less than moral police officers. After “escaping” custody, he ends up accidentally taking a liquor store hostage with one of the police officers inside as well … oh and it is around Christmas.
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Written by: Theodore Melfi and Christopher Wehner
Starring: Tim Allen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Fax Shephard, Jessica Alba, Kurtwood Smith, and Luke Grimes
The throw away comedy bits were the best parts by far. Tim Allen dominated most of this surprisingly in what I imagine were improvised, but Dax Shephard held his own. Tim Allen makes the best of being trapped in a liquor store on Christmas while living out his hostage scenario. Dax plays the bumbling deputy who halfway pays attention to detail and follows whomever is the current person of authority. That isn’t to say they had the only good parts. Vincent D’Onofrio singing his offbrand country song, Kurtwood Smith’s sheriff who is just over his head, or the grandmother/mother who is constantly looking for a good time are all worth a laugh as well.
My complaints are very similar to the ones from Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri as in the drama was undercut by the comedy … and the comedy wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own. Tim Allen is not a convincing drunk (his entire role relies on him being drunk 24/7) and hearing him use so much profanity takes some getting used to considering his work is generally family friendly. While the events leading up to the hostage situation; the reasoning after becomes laughable. The serious moments don’t have enough momentum, the ending is forecasted, and the plot points have been made comedic … so by the end there is no weight to any consequence.
This has all of the appeal actors you might recognize and appreciate, a simple enough premise that sounds like something from a real news story, and just enough comedy to keep you interested. There are many much better Netflix original movies out there; so it would be difficult to recommend this one. Throw on that they have many other movies that might not be originals and it gets even more difficult. Even if you narrowed it down to odd Christmas movies with Tim Allen, you have better options … so this can be skipped unless you find a reason to watch it.
I decided to use my favorite Netflix original movie as the recommendation, but then realized there are several that are great in their own ways. The Babysitter was a fantastic comedy / horror, The Siege of Jadotville is a phenomenal war / action movie, The Wheelman is a great chase / suspense movie … but my pick will be the solid drama that should have been a contender for an Oscar: Beasts of No Nation. It is the story of an African child who finds himself part of a child army. This is worth checking out, but be warned this is a very tough watch.