Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, Jillian Bell, Lizzie Caplan, Michael Shannon (Rated MA – 101 min).
A year on from the infamous Sony Pictures hacking incident stemming from controversial comedy The Interview, producers and star from that flop return for more offensive but thankfully, much funnier mayhem of a Christmas kind.
Not to be mistaken as a remake of an identically titled 1988 Keanu Reeves video store favourite, rather a typically rigid Seth Rogen comedy ramping up a sense of festive debauchery not seen since Billy Bob Thornton as Bad Santa sent unaware parents with children scrambling out of the cinema.
Isaac and Chris have helped their friend Ethan celebrate the holiday season together since the childhood death of his father. This year Ethan is particularly down due to the recent breakup with his longtime girlfriend. Running around New York in a haze of inebriation from a variety of substances while looking for clues to a secret party known as The Nutcracka Ball, these boys are care-free about risqué situations and jaded moments of carousing. Beware, nothing is sacred, leave any sense of decorum at the door. Be alert for full frontal nudity and a church scene part of ongoing religious satire. Revisit Elf on DVD with the kids, don’t take them to this.
Along the way in search of Nutcracka Ball, rapid fire references to Christmas related movies are often hilarious -especially an homage to Die Hard, also a memorable visit to the large floor piano featured in the Tom Hanks classic Big. Spreading holiday cheer takes on a new meaning when the weed dealing ghost of Christmas past, present and future makes an appearance.
If viewed with an open mind, this insane comedy is held together by chemistry of the three mismatched leads Rogen, Mackie & Gordon-Levitt. An abundance of impressive shock cameos bring big laughs, while Miley Cyrus in a Wrecking Ball duet with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a perfect way to end this often hilarious, naughty, sometimes nice, boundary pushing yuletide sojourn. No classic, but critic proof adult fun.
Shane A. Bassett