Even if Robin Williams were still among us, the limp, drearily derivative A Merry Friggin’ Christmas would feel like it had a pall cast over it. A home-for-the-holidays comedy that dreams of being both a National Lampoon-ish feature and Bad Santa—with a dash of Home Alone schmaltz for good measure—Christmas not only never comes close to the highs of those titles, but squanders a cast of actors usually able to elevate weak material. It begins as a family-gathering tale, with successful but resentful Boyd (Joel McHale) visiting his genial mother (Candice Bergen) and critical, oft-inebriated dad (Williams), who’s named Mitch Mitchler, just one indication of the movie’s low bar for an easy chortle.
When Boyd and his wife (Lauren Graham, probably wishing she were still in Bad Santa) realize they’ve forgotten their son’s presents at home, the movie, already virtually laugh-free, morphs into a men’s road picture, with Boyd’s brother, a single dad who claims to be a war vet (Clark Duke) joining his sibling and father for some sheriff-dodging, truth-telling night driving.
In addition to wasting all those folks, the film also squanders the comic manna of The Goldbergs‘ terrific Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tim and Eric staple Tim Heidecker, and Oliver Platt, very wisely hiding behind a mangy Santa costume, presumably so that nobody will remember he ever appeared in such a friggin’ dud. D+