My Uncle Rafael


Armenian comedy star Vahik Pirhamzei brings his signature character to American shores with My Uncle Rafael, an insufferable import indebted to Mrs. Doubtfire in which a man in prosthetics helps a family cope with, and overcome, divorce. Encased in old-man makeup that includes a mustache, giant eyebrows, and a paunch, Pirhamzei plays Rafael, the outgoing 71-year-old father of wheeler-dealer Hamo (also Pirhamzei), whose helpful nature convinces a TV producer (Rachel Blanchard) to hire him to headline a reality show where he lives in a home with morose Jack (Anthony Clark), his kids, and his estranged wife (Missi Pyle) and her shady lawyer fiancé (John Michael Higgins). The term “contrived” doesn’t begin to capture the sheer nonsensicality of this sitcom setup, but more painful is Rafael’s shtick, which involves delivering endlessly flat punchlines such as, with regard to the show, “A pilot? But I don’t fly.” When not broadly riffing about love, commitment, and Jay-Z and Kim Kardashian, Rafael heals everyone around him (all of them dull types, including the angry goth teen and misbehaving young son) via advice like “When you learn to love someone without condition, you will be loved in return”—nauseating platitudes that turn the film into a comedy of corny homilies.

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