Review: Sibling Rivalry at its Craziest, ‘Awful Nice’

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Awful Nice, the story of two estranged brothers who, after their father dies, have to travel to Branson, Missouri to sell his house, reminded me of a Duplass Brothers movie; raw and sometimes hilarious, with characters who are just shy of being sent to a mental institution.

After they ruin their dads funeral by getting in the most ridiculous fight ever, brothers Jim and Dave (James Pumphrey and Alex Rennie) hit the road to Branson, Missouri to renovate and sell the house they’ve just inherited.

Dave is a walking train wreck. Everything he touches turns to crap – hilariously so. And poor Jim has had to play straight man to this insanity all of his life. Their fights are epic and crazy. It feels like Rennie and Phumphrey are actually brothers the way they poke, jab and go at each other, both physically and even more so, mentally.

Directed by Todd Sklar (who also co-wrote the film with Rennie), the film is basically a tale of sibling rivalry and working out all of those pent-up emotions they’ve had since they were kids. The movie seems to be just an excuse to put Phumphrey and Rennie in-front of a camera and watch them improv a series of increasingly wacky scenes. Which is not a bad thing most of the time – the guys are brilliant in some scenes.

There’s no real plot to the film and that’s fine because the amount of laughs you’ll get. But, as it moves towards the end, you start to wonder where it’s actually going. Dave is a disaster, we know that, but when he finally breaks and shows some kind of emotion, I just didn’t buy it. Where did this actual human being come from? I know it’s a comedy but he can’t be a robot for 99% of the film. There’s gotta be something about him we can connect with. 

The film, which also stars Christopher Meloni and Keeley Hazell, has some truly gut-busting moments and you should definitely check it out if you have a chance. Especially for the dinner table scene.

Awful Nice is in theaters March 7th.

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