Review: ‘See You in Valhalla’: Skip this cliched family reunion

Sarah Hyland plays Johanna, an artist who left town during a teen pregnancy in "See You in Valhalla."
Sarah Hyland plays Johanna, an artist who left town during a teen pregnancy in “See You in Valhalla.”

The ensemble dramedy “See You in Valhalla” could be the death knell for dysfunctional family reunion movies. It’s that bad. Blame it largely on Brent Tarnol’s clumsy, clichéd script that his director brother, Jarret, does little to improve upon.

When Maxwell “Magnus” Burwood (Jake McDorman), a soulful drug addict with a Viking complex, meets a bizarre death, his siblings descend upon their childhood home and shaky, estranged father (Conor O’Farrell) to sort things out.

The Burwood kids include Johanna (Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family”), an artist who left town during a teen pregnancy; Barry (Bret Harrison), a gay psychologist with self-esteem issues; and Don (Michael Weston), an uptight pill with a priggish teen daughter (Odeya Rush). Johanna’s overanxious date (Alex Frost) and Barry’s dippy, trippy boyfriend (Steve Howey, overdoing the fey-leering bit) round out the visitors. Save the sympathetic Johanna, it’s a poorly drawn, unappealing bunch that too often drowns in discord.

Over the course of the film, the Burwoods drearily reopen old wounds, struggle to find common ground and reminisce about their beloved late mother, but it all feels forced and fabricated.


Meanwhile, a thread involving Johanna’s inauspicious reunion with her hunky ex-boyfriend (Beau Mirchoff) fizzles. Same for the presence of Dad’s new-agey young nurse (Emma Bell), who spouts stuff like, “The energy in here is so damp, man!” As for the movie’s approach to all things gay, it feels so 20 years ago.

Only when a few deeper truths emerge does the film edge toward actual substance. But by then, it’s too little, too late.


“See You in Valhalla”


MPAA rating: R for language, sexual references, drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes.

Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.