It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 18, 2009 by  

Possibly the darkest, crudest, hilarious and violent Christmas episode you will ever see from a television series,  “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas” takes viewers where the television episode can’t.  Absolutely insane but definitely fun!

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TITLE: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas

DURATION: 43 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p Upconvert (1:78:1), Englisy 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, AVC@18 or higher MBPS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

RATED: 13 and Up

COMPANY: FX/Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2009

Created by Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day

Directed by Fred Savage

Produced by Fred Savage

Co-Produced by Jeff Luini

Music by Cormac Bluestone

Casting by Wendy O’Brien


Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly

Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds

Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds

Rob McElhenney as Mac

Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds

Ho, ho, heyooo! Christmas is nearly here and the Paddy’s gang has got the spirit. Well, not really. For them, the holidays have always been a time of trickery, backstabbing, and disappointment. But this year things are going to be different as they are determined to rediscover the joy in Christmas. Join Mac, Charlie, Dennis, Dee and Frank as they embark on a holiday adventure filled with stolen toys, childhood videos, naked elves and a bloody run in with Santa Claus that is guaranteed to blast Christmas spirit all over!

Possibly the darkest comedy Christmas special I have ever seen in my life.  And I would expect nothing less from the popular FX television series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

The dark comedy is from the minds of Rob McElhenney (who plays the character of Mac, “Lost”), Glenn Howerton (who plays the character Dennis Reynolds, “That 80’s Show”, “The Cleveland Show”) and Charlie Day (who plays the character of Charlie Kelly, “Third Watch”, “Luis”), all three who star as the main characters of the show.

The series is based on a group of misanthropes who run Paddy’s Pub, an Irish bar in South Philadelphia.

The following are the main characters of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”:

Dennis Reynolds – Dennis runs the pub with his twin sister Deandra.  He has a superiority complex in which he demeans all his friends including his sister and will always bring up their flaws and past failures.  He’s critical of everyone’s appearance and is somewhat hated by people.

Deandra “Dee” Reynolds -“Dee” (played by Kaitlin Olson, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “The Riches”, “The Drew Carey Show”) is the twin sister of Dennis and is the bartender at Paddy’s Pub.  Her dream is to become an actress but she lacks talent.  Often ignored by the guys and belittled, Dee is selfish and greedy.

Charlie Kelly – Co-owner of Paddy’s and grew up with Dennis and Mac.  Quite possibly the friend who gets into trouble and has a bad habit of inhaling glue and spray paint.   And he’s quite disgusting and dumb.  He is the roommate of Frank Reynolds (played by Danny DeVito, “Taxi”), the father of Dennis and Dee.

Mac – A co-owner of Paddy’s Pub and sees himself as superior to his friends but somewhat idolizes Frank Reynolds and is jealous of other people’s success.  He comes from a broken home and is always seeking acceptance which leads to people thinking he’s a bit of a jerk.

Frank Reynolds – The father of Dennis and Dee (and possibly Charlie).  Frank has literally worked in various illegal businesses.  He tends to exploit his children and is egotistical and maniacal.  Also, a compulsive gambler.

“A Very Sunny Christmas” was the final episode of the fifth season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and in order to get past the FCC, it was released direct-to-DVD  (note: this episode was longer than a standard episode and features more profanity and violence) and takes place before Christmas time.

It’s Christmas time and Mac and Charlie are decorating the pub with holiday glee but when Dennis and Dee arrive to the pub, they don’t want to celebrate Christmas at all.

When they receive a call from Frank that he has a Christmas present, both Dennis and Dee are worried about what he bought himself this time.  Frank has upset his children once again when she shows up with a new sports car and carrying around an expensive Italian bag and again, the children are upset that their father is spending the money he stole from his former business partner and enjoying life as if he did nothing wrong.

Upset with their father (who disappoints them during the holiday season continuously), Dennis and Dee decide to contact Frank’s former business partner (the person he stole money from) and possibly Mr. Hamilton would get some payback.  As for Frank, he thinks his former partner is dead and thus, he lives his life with no worries.

So, Dennis and Dee pay a visit to Mr. Hamilton to see if he wants revenge but the thing is that Mr. Hamilton is a big Christian and said he has forgiven Frank.   So, Dennis and Dee come up with an idea that perhaps Mr. Hamilton can teach Frank how to be a Christian since he doesn’t believe in God and thus, Mr. Hamilton who figures he can help Frank decides to help Dennis and Dee.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Mac try to celebrate Christmas and share their Christmas traditions but realizing that perhaps Christmas for them was not what they thought it was.

For Mac, he finds a Christmas video in which his family celebrates Christmas by going to someone’s home and stealing their presents.  Mac, who is naive, thinks it’s a Christmas tradition of going to people’s home and taking their gifts, while people go to their homes and take their gifts (thus why there was never gifts at his home) and says its a holiday tradition.  But Charlie informs him there is no such holiday tradition and he and his family were actually stealing.

As for Charlie, he thinks its tradition when a Santa would come in and bring him a present and then each Santa that would come would spend time with his mother and give her money.  He asks if Mac celebrates that Christmas tradition but Mac explains to him that his mother was probably a prostitute and was having sex with the Santa’s that would come to his home.

So, while Charlie and Mac try to find out how to celebrate the Christmas holiday, Dennis and Dee brings Mr. Hamilton to Frank’s apartment (Frank thinks he’s still dead) and Frank freaks out and thinks he’s a ghost.  But both Dennis and Dee decided to show a video of how Frank destroyed Christmas for them forever.

But the night of Christmas is about each character discovering Christmas their own way and the gang trying to show Mr. Hamilton of how much Frank is an a-hole and shouldn’t be forgiven and that his business partner should demand payback.

Definitely, a very sunny Christmas for the gang!


“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas is presented in widescreen (1:78:1) with AVC@18 or higher MBPS.  It’s important to note that on the Blu-ray edition, there is a “Producer’s Blu-ray Introduction” (:48) in which Rob McElhenny and the producer read a note from Fox that the Christmas special was not shot in HD but in standard definition because it was a creative choice.  Also, explaining that the video was upconverted.

Audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and for the most part is a front and center-channel driven episode.  Music sounds much, much louder and cleaner but definitely not an episode where one should expect any surround or subwoofer usage.

Subtitles are featured in English SDH, Spanish and French.


“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas” comes with the following special features:

  • “Young Charlie & Young Mac: Deleted Scenes: (2:47) Dad, Dogs, Bird – Three hilarious scenes featuring young Charlie and Young Mac talk about their personal life.  Mac talking about his dad going to prison, Mac explaining to Charlie of where he came from when he was a baby and the final deleted scene about Charlie depressed about how he is growing hair in his armpits and his bird.
  • Behind the Scenes/Making Of featurette – (7:22) The cast and crew talk about doing the Christmas special but also thinking back on their favorite Christmas moments as a child.
  • Sunny Sing-A-Long – (3:12) Featuring the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” singing Christmas songs.  Featuring the gang having fun with each other while video effects show the characters with weird heads and some twisted footage.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas” is the darkest, crudest comedy Christmas special I have ever seen.  But in a way, I found it kind of twisted and fun to see a special so unlike any Christmas specials which tend to be happy and cheerful.  “A Very Sunny Christmas” is the total opposite of what you would expect to see for a Christmas special and I for one, never expected to see Danny DeVito nude, nor did I expect to see a Santa being mauled during the Christmas children’s line at the shopping center.  So, expect to see some hilarious but also…”wow, I can’t believe they did that on this episode” type of scenes.

For those familiar with the show, the Christmas episode works well with the characters as they are misanthropes who have lived somewhat messed up lives and now trying to make it as adults.   It’s like watching a Christmas special of “Scrooge” but the story works in reverse as the children of Frank really want to see their father get lambasted for his holiday misdeeds.  It was quite interesting to see what kind of storyline they would have for the gang when they were kids and suffice to say, it works.  It’s absolutely wild and crazy but it works.

If you are trying to choose if you should go for the Blu-ray over the DVD version, the main difference is that the Blu-ray is in HD and actually brings up the graininess of the series (which is explained in a special feature) and is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio which brings out the music of the show.  If anything, those who are audiophiles will probably go for the lossless soundtrack version but for the most part, there is no exclusive content for Blu-ray over its DVD counterpart and the feature is upconverted.  Personally, I think the video and audio is marginally better than the DVD but by a small fraction.  So, don’t expect awesome PQ and AQ with this Blu-ray release.

Overall, this holiday adventure for the gang of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” definitely shows us how far the cast and crew will go when they don’t have to bend over for the FCC.   It’s twisted, crazy and fun and definitely great for those who could care less for the usual Christmas specials.  Many fans have come to love “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” because of its writing and the fact that the main talent who are acting are the creators and writers of the show seems to help because they really have done a great job with the series thus far.  So, for those who are interested in the Blu-ray or DVD release, if you are sick of the cheerful, happy holidays style of specials all over television, then you will definitely want to give “A Very Sunny Christmas” a try.

Dark humor and crude, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas” is definitely for you!

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