Happy Firkin Birthday (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 Happy Firkin Birthday is actually a sequel to Merry Firkin Christmas (originally titled My Firkin Family), which I reviewed a while back and really enjoyed, so it’s little wonder that when director Clay Sills contacted me and said that his new feature, Happy Firkin Birthday was completed, I jumped at the chance to review it as well. The only question I had was, how would it measure up to the original?

Merry Firkin Christmas introduced us to the Firkin family and all their little quirks and attitudes and all the strangeness that was the Firkins. You got the way hip parents who don’t even bat an eyelash when talking about sex, their son Gavin who’s a womanizing conservative, their daughter Nicola who’s a liberal, lesbian inventor hell bent on helping the poor third worlders of the world with her inventions, and her wife Natasha, a hot russian girl who’s completely bi-sexual and used to be Gavin’s girlfriend before she hooked up with his sister.

In this outing, dad has bought himself a bar, and a huge part of the movie actually takes place in the bar. Some hair and mane shampoo company is currently running a special promotion there as well, including a personal appearance by an ex-cannibal biker who also seems to be some sort of a life-guru. Sound weird? Oh it gets better…

This film is called Happy Firkin Birthday for a reason. Nicola’s birthday is fast approaching. The birthday doesn’t really have anything much to do with the events of the movie though. It’s just sort of an excuse to wrap up the ending. The main plot revolves around Nicola and Natasha and how they’ve decided they want a baby…and how they want to get it. They want Gavin to be the sperm donor so Natasha can get pregnant. Naturally Gavin is reluctant, and the relationship problems between Nicola and Natasha, mostly involving Nicola’s frequent bouts of jealousy, aren’t making things any easier for anyone. Will Gavin give in and help his sister and his ex-girlfriend have a baby? Will the ex-cannibal biker come out of retirement and eat someone? Will Gavin ever be the same after taking a knee to the groin from his mother? You’ll have to watch it and find out for yourself.

What’s really great about these Firkin movies is that they’re completely story, character and dialogue driven. As you watch these people interacting with each other, you feel drawn in to the situations, unable to look away for fear of missing what’s coming next. While the acting and line delivery can be stiff, or even a little awkward at times, and the conversations can sound a bit edited together as the camera goes back and forth between the people chatting, none of it matters. For some reason, when you watch these people, you almost feel connected to them in some way, like you’re actually sitting there with them listening to them talk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other movies that made me feel that way. The humor all works, the situations and conversations are fun and interesting and the story moves along at a good pace, never leaving you bored or wanting to hit the fast forward button.

On a technical / film making level, this film is a huge step forward for film maker Clay Sills. The sound was better, the quality of the video was better, the lighting was better, the shots were set up nicely, and generally it speaks volumes about his ability to learn and progress as a film maker. The best news is, Clay will be starting the next film in the series sometime around November, so there’ll be more Firkin goodness to enjoy some time next year.

If you haven’t seen Merry Firkin Christmas, I highly recommend picking up a copy of both films and watching them in order. Even though this film actually stands on its own and you really don’t need to have seen the first one beforehand, you definitely will want to see them both, and when you finish watching this one, you’ll definitely find yourself eagerly anticipating the next. Both films are for sale on the My Firkin Family website, and believe me, it’s worth having both of them.

There are big laughs, great characters and lots of fun to be had here. The re-watchability factor of these films is very high, and in fact, I’m sure I’ll be watching Happy Firkin Birthday at least one more time in the upcoming week just because I enjoyed it so much. I know you will too.