Friday 16 December 2022

It's A Wonderful Binge (2022)

I quite enjoyed The Binge. I didn’t love it, and it isn’t a film I rush to recommend to others, but it was an enjoyably amusing distraction while it was on. So hearing that there was now a Christmas-tinged sequel meant that I had another film to add to my ever-bulging bag of festive viewing options. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing. I just hoped it might be as enjoyable as the first film.

Thankfully, it was.

The premise is similar to the first film. All drink and drugs are illegal, with a notable exception for one night a year, known as The Binge. Deciding that people cannot face the stress, and the family time, sober, The Binge is moved to Christmas. Which makes sense. One of our leads, Hags (Dexter Darden), wants to stay sober anyway, aiming to propose to his girlfriend (Sarah, played by Zainne Saleh), but poor Andrew (Eduardo Franco) may want to get as wasted as possible, considering how miserable he feels after spending a small amount of time with his entire family. Elsewhere, a mayoral candidate (Kaitlin Olson) wants everyone to live better lives, meaning that she wants them to turn their backs on The Binge, while her daughter (Kimmi, played by Marta Piekarz) feels extra pressure to behave in a way that won’t enrage her uptight mother.

While not everyone returns from the first movie, there’s nothing here that feels like viewers are being delivered any lesser options. When your supporting cast features Danny Trejo, Tim Meadows, Nick Swarsdon, and the aforementioned Olson, as well as a number of others helping to add to the fun, it’s enough to at least guarantee you a good time.

Jordan VanDina returns to the writing duties, but also takes over as director this time around. They do a good job helming the film, using the Christmas season as an excuse to heap more pressure upon the characters while also riffing on It’s A Wonderful Life (that strand featuring Trejo as some kind of angel in what I would say are some of the best scenes in the movie).

Franco and Darden may not be the first choice for many lead movie roles, but both do a great job here. Franco has been building up a decent comedy filmography over the past few years, and Darden proves himself just as capable as his co-star, helped by the script giving him wonderfully ridiculous obstacles to overcome as he tries to arrange a well-timed marriage proposal. Olson has fun being stressed throughout, Meadows steals every scene that he is in, and Trejo feels very much like he just came on set and acted like Trejo for a day or two (not a criticism, it adds to the fun of that character). Saleh and Piekarz do well, even if they aren’t given many of the more effective comedy moments, and there  are some great moments featuring Tony Cavalero (returning from the first movie) and Patty Guggenheim.

I cannot see anyone disliking this if they enjoyed the first movie. It’s absolutely on a par with it. Maybe not as Christmassy as it could be, which is a shame, but viewers should find enough to enjoy throughout.


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