‘Friendsgiving’ Falls Short of Hopeful Expectations

Despite the film’s lack of attention and landing initial bad reviews, I was excited to see Friendsgiving because some of my favorite comics like Chelsea Peretti, Fortune Feimster and Kat Dennings were on the cast list. Unfortunately, the film did not nearly meet my high expectations. In case you are unfamiliar, Friendsgiving is a film about a last minute Thanksgiving dinner hosted by two best friends in Los Angeles. The holiday comedy featuring some of Hollywood’s funniest actors and actresses was directed and written by Nicol Paone.

Friendsgiving begins when recently-divorced actress Molly (Malin Akerman) cancels her plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with her best friend Abbey (Kat Dennings) since she doesn’t feel like celebrating. Things change when her semi-estranged mother Helen (Jane Seymour) shows up expecting a proper Thanksgiving celebration. So in a frantic attempt to throw something together, Molly invites everyone she knows that is still available. 

The guest list for the evening includes Molly’s new boyfriend Jeff (Jack Donnelly) as well as married couples Dan (Deon Cole) and Lauren (Aisha Tyler) and Brianne (Christine Taylor) and Rick (Andrew Santino). Plus all of their single acquaintances with nowhere else to celebrate: Claire (Chelsea Peretti), Barbara (Dana DeLorenzo), Lily (Serenity Reign Brown), Denim (Rhea Butcher), Gus (Mike Rose), Palo (Scout Durwood) and Civil (Brainna Baker). And finally to make the night as awkward as humanly possible, Helen invites Molly’s ex-husband Gunnar (Ryan Hansen) to join in on the festivities — and she decides to make a move.

As Molly is dealing with her difficult mother, Abbey has problems of her own. Abbey, a lonely down-on-love lesbian, is struggling in the dating department. Molly attempts to set her up with one of their guests but she isn’t interested. Then, her night takes a bit of a turn when Lauren offers her shrooms. It is then that Abbey is visited by three Fairy Gay Mothers played by Wanda Sykes, Fortune Feimster and Margaret Cho, who offer her their gay fairy wisdom. 

I have to admit that for a film with such a funny and well-known cast, I was greatly let down. It felt like it carried such high potential but never fully reached it. Additionally, since there are already so many films about dysfunctional holiday meals out there, it needed something totally fresh to make it memorable.

In response, I feel that there were a few ways Friendsgiving could have been salvaged. The first being if Abbey was the main character instead of Molly. For a main character, Molly just didn’t seem complete enough and frankly her mommy issues were a bit overplayed. While there were a number of known names in the cast, it was clear that Dennings was the star of the show and the script should have reflected that.

Another way the film could have been better is if the Fairy Gay Mothers played a more prominent role being that they were by far the best part of the movie. It was unfortunate they were only in it for a few moments. Finally, I think that overall there could be less movies taking place in Los Angeles and this film in particular could have benefitted from the group gathering in a more unique setting. This would have been a simple way to freshen up the script.

If you are looking for a fun Thanksgiving movie, I would not deter you from watching Friendsgiving, I would just simply suggest lowering your expectations. With that being said, the film has its moments that you will certainly enjoy. While Friendsgiving is entertaining and allows you to spend time with some of your favorite stars, it will most likely not be a film that you revisit each year on Thanksgiving like it was intended.

Friendsgiving is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake

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