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'Uncle Nick' a leering Christmas tale

With the infamous 1974 10-cent beer night melee — a Texas Rangers at Cleveland Indians baseball game that ended in a riot — serving as both reference point and analogy, "Uncle Nick" recounts a particularly unpleasant Christmas dinner for a Cleveland household.

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The titular Nick (Brian Posehn) is a stout, bald, hirsute, drunken lout, who can afford to lounge around all day in his boxers thanks to revenue generated from the family landscaping business. For Christmas, he's going to the home shared by his smug, airhead brother, Cody (Beau Ballinger), Cody's cougar wife, Sophie (Paget Brewster), and her two children from a previous marriage.

Nick's resolution for the evening and, indeed, the story's MacGuffin: to have sex with Sophie's barely legal daughter, Valerie (Melia Renee).

Having to spend time with any of these characters would be nobody's idea of fun. From the outset, writer Mike Demski makes Nick out to be a misanthrope with no filter or redeeming qualities. But with the revelation of a personal tragedy in Nick's past, Demski is inviting us to excuse the inexcusable like Nick sexting with his stepniece. Demski and director Chris Kasick wrap up the story neatly — in both senses of that word — by suggesting that we can all feel better at somebody else's expense.

"Uncle Nick"

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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