Monday, November 22, 2021

Black Friday, Co-Starring Michael Jai White & Bruce Campbell

A lot of people who once thought they loved Kevin Smith’s Clerks have long since forgotten how much it sucks to work retail. Here’s a film to remind everyone. On this fateful night, the employees of I Love Toys are not just working for a big box retailer. They are working on the most intense shopping day of the year. To make matters worse, some sort of zombie outbreak starts infecting the bargain-hunting shoppers in Casey Tebo’s Black Friday, which releases tomorrow in VOD.

Everyone is super-happy to be working on Black Friday, especially Ken, the single dad, who had to skip Thanksgiving dinner with his young daughters. Chris, the twentysomething living at home, isn’t missing out on any nice family time, but he still hates being there. People are queueing up outside like metaphorical zombies, as they all soon will be in fact. The first to turn will be a rather foul-tempered granny, but soon they are all snarling and biting.

So, there is no real plan, but the general objectives are to stay alive and get out of the building. Sure, we have seen this kind of thing before, but
Black Friday has two genre favorites, Michael Jai White and Bruce Campbell to elevate everything. Frankly, White is by far the most entertaining thing about the movie, combining his action cred with some terrific deadpan delivery for Archie, the store maintenance guy. Of course, Campbell still chews the scenery like a pro as Jonathan, the slimy store manager.

Devon Sawa gets way more laughs than you would expect as the Ken, the aging bro. He also has some sharply written give-and-take with Ivana Baquero as Marnie, his pseudo-work-GF. Ryan Lee is a bit too shticky and a tad too shrieky as Chris, the sad sack. However, Stephen Peck creates a character worthy of vintage
Seinfeld as Brian, the store suck-up.

Frustratingly, Andy Greskoviak’s screenplay almost misses the whole point when it starts dashing off lines bemoaning consumerism. There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy something cool at a good price. There is a great deal wrong with treating someone like dirt just because they are wearing a name-tag. That’s not consumerism. It’s bad manners and a dubious upbringing. On the plus side, veteran make-up and effects designer creates some gleefully ghoulish shopper-zombies, or whatever they are.

Black Friday
is at its best (and funniest) when it embraces the characters’ retail complaints. Anyone who has worked retail can relate and the workplace dynamics are pretty universal. Usually pretty funny and gross in the right ways, Black Friday is recommended for horror-comedy fans when it releases tomorrow (11/23) on VOD.