Family Thanksgiving dinners are often fraught with drama, but writer-director Jenna Laurenzo’s debut comedy “Lez Bomb” could make even the most contentious gatherings look calm by comparison. Though her script overloads its characters with confusion to the point of farce, there’s still a warm, authentic core that drives this well-meaning effort.
When Lauren (Laurenzo) travels home to the New Jersey suburbs for Thanksgiving, she intends to come out of the closet to her family — including parents (Kevin Pollak, Deirdre O’Connell) and grandparents (Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern) — and introduce her girlfriend Hailey (Caitlin Mehner). But misunderstanding after misunderstanding piles up, and the family believes she’s actually in love with her roommate, Austin (Brandon Micheal Hall). While her mother frets over the turkey, Lauren wonders if her family will ever listen to — and understand — her, and Hailey begins to doubt how comfortable Lauren is in their relationship.
Overwritten and overlit (often resembling a basic-cable sitcom), “Lez Bomb” frequently undercuts its own charms. This is Laurenzo’s first film leading both behind and in front of the camera, and her inexperience often shows in moments that require greater skill. But she succeeds at casting, with O’Connell providing an emotional core as Lauren’s mother and Pollak supplying laughs.
Unsurprisingly, award-winning veterans Leachman and Dern are the highlight, elevating each scene they’re in with sly, knowing delivery. “Lez Bomb” is overstuffed in a slight 90-minute run time (particularly in its final act), but at least still manages to be more fun than a stressful holiday dinner.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 9, AMC Universal CityWalk 19; also on VOD