Written by Pollo Misterioso
I believe that it is finally all right to use the word “popular” when referring to the show Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This smash comic television show is in its fifth season and finally has the street cred and viewing numbers to prove its fame. In the spirit of the holidays, the gang decided to make a Christmas special for DVD entitled A Very Sunny Christmas that is filled with as many outrageous and crude jokes that they could think up in under an hour about their dysfunctional holiday—it will be popular among the fans, but for some reason it does not capture the heart of the holiday or the gang.
For those that do not know, the show centers on a group of friends that own a bar in Philadelphia. The gang, as they are often referred to as, includes brother and sister Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) Reynolds, their father Frank (Danny DeVito), Charlie (Charlie Day), and Mac (Rob McElhenney). There really isn’t that much more of a storyline to give, because it is all about the crazy scenarios and their disturbing ideas that make the show so appealing. They are known for their base humor and making the most uncomfortable situations funny. Watch them try to tackle the mortgage crisis—Dee rents out her uterus and Dennis and Mac become realtors. It’s funny.
The gang puts its own spin on Christmas this year with an extended episode on DVD. Dee and Dennis are sick of their father giving the worst gifts on Christmas. To teach him a lesson, they find his old business partner and try to haunt him with ghosts of his past. Meanwhile, Charlie and Mac try to get into the holiday spirit by participating in all of their favorite holiday traditions, including stealing presents from under different people’s trees and getting back at Santa for sleeping with Charlie’s mom. When they finally come together, with stolen toys and bloodied shirts, Frank learns that the real spirit of Christmas comes from giving. Unfortunately, in the end they are robbed.
What seems to hold true to an Always Sunny storyline does not provide the payoff that is expected. When Charlie beats up Santa Claus, he walks away covered in blood and that is it. As for Mac, we don’t even see him practice his tradition as an adult. Frank has a run-in with an animated elf, but the entire time he curses the f-word and the final gag is childish. See for yourself.
Some of the great moments include the sing-a-long, done in clay animation about Frank. A Christmas elf sings and graphically shows Frank what will happen if he does not give to those around him. Let’s just say there is a lot of animated blood and the whole gang is animated. The gang also pushes their boundaries when Frank crawls out of a sofa stark naked in the middle of a holiday party. All at once, you are laughing, grossed out, and still can’t pull your eyes away from what is happening on screen. Even with these great gags, the holiday special is amiss and falls flat when paired against other episodes.
Always Sunny is great at taking things that are awkward and socially wrong and making it work. For Christmas it is okay to be greedy and selfish, as long as it is understood. But amidst the themes that are often explored, the special allows for excessive curse words and nude elves. Unfortunately, this distracts from what potentially could be very funny. The gang is good at what they do. With five seasons, they do not look like they will be slowing down anytime soon. They should stick to what they know and not allow the endless possibilities of a “DVD Special” take away what they really wanted to say for Christmas.
As for the DVD extras there are three interesting segments to watch. The first are deleted scenes of young Charlie and young Mac just hanging out. The “Behind the Scenes” segment only shows the cast briefly and does not explain anything that they did in the episode, except briefly mention the clay animation used. As for the “Sing-a-long” it is a disturbing take on a few favorite carols. Complete with Mac computer graphics, I think someone had too much fun under the influence.