So last week saw the grand finale of HBO’s Eastbound and Down. The sitcom that followed Danny McBride’s Kenny Powers, an ex pro baseballer as he desperately tries to cling on to his fame and win over the love of his life. I was a late-comer to the show but it quickly became one of my favourites, every season managed to create a fresh, new situation to throw this brilliantly observed character into. After initially announcing that the third season as the last after the final episode it was announced that there would be one last blaze of glory for Kenny Powers.
Season four picks up with Kenny having quit baseball and becoming a stay at home dad, while his wife makes her name as a real-estate agent. It’s not long before Powers’ ego gets the best of him and he can’t handle playing second fiddle to his wife and when he is offered a guest spot on a sports TV show it’s not long before he slips back into his fame hungry, selfish ways. What has always been the best thing about Eastbound and Down is that it manages to keep the laughs flowing but also makes you feel for it’s tragic lead character who can’t seem to grow out of his ten-year old mindset. His sidekick Stevie is also a consistent provider of big laughs while being a completely tragic pushover. What the writers do so well is making the drama feel real without going over-the-top. Season four in particular makes use of this emotional connection we have with the characters creating probably the most touching moments of the show and providing us with a fitting end to one of the most ingenious sitcom’s to come out in recent years.
The quality of the show is so high it’s impossible to pick a best season, as every one of them could make a good case. Although the very final moment of the season leaves you wondering what was actually going on season four gives us a fine farewell to a superb comedy creation.
So I recently finished watching Arrested Development’s three seasons. I have no idea why it took me so long to get through it, it was one of the most enjoyable shows I have ever watched. But reaching the end of the shows original run has been made even sweeter by the knowledge that Netflix have commissioned a brand new fourth season in which all the main cast will return and 15 new episodes will be available from the 29th May, a date for the diary for sure. The shows original run was cancelled by Fox back in 2006 since despite the raving critical reception the show never managed particularly good viewing figures, which doesn’t seem to make any sense!
If you haven’t seen the show before it is a sitcom about the lives of the Bluth family, all of whom are used to living with an abundance of money behind them but as their family business falls into problems its a hard job getting any of them to change their ways and the sheer dysfunctionality (don’t think that’s a real word but you get the gist) of all of them provides us with one of the funniest comedies ever to grace the small screen. There are many things which I love about Arrested Development and it’s very hard to list them all, one of the shows best attributes is that every character is deluded in a different way and that provides a great basis for hilarious misunderstandings to occur. But the humour doesn’t stop just with the characters the writing of the show deserves some kind of medal of honour for being able to persistently present the Bluth’s with incredibly funny and awkward situations every single episode. It’s a mystery to me how they managed to keep coming up with the amount of stuff they did, and I can’t wait for more.
If you haven’t seen the show I strongly recommend checking out so you can catch up in time for season four!
This weeks cinema trip was a rom-com that I was actually really excited for. Billed as the ‘sort-of sequel’ to Knocked Up, This is 40 is Judd Apatow’s fourth time behind the directors chair and it follows the lives of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), who were secondary characters in Knocked Up as they turn 40 and the marital, financial and parenting problems they go through. It really doesn’t have much to do with Knocked Up at all but that doesn’t really matter. Apatow is probably the biggest producer in Hollywood today and all his previous directorial efforts have been excellent. His last outing was with Funny People a film which was largely disliked by the public but loved by critics (and me). It was a much more sombre affair than his first two but I think, an understated well told, heartfelt film. I was expecting more of the same with This is 40.
One thing most of the reviews I’ve read have picked up on is the lengthy running time of 136 minutes and the majority of reviews I’ve read have said it’s far too long. I beg to differ. I thought the plot trotted along at a very watchable pace with funny bits cropping up far more often than I was expecting. I didn’t even notice the time passing and would have been happy to spend another hour in the presence of these lovable, realistic characters. Another thing most of the reviews noted is how much this film feels like a sit com, again this is mostly seen as a bad thing by the critics. Again, I think they’re completely wrong, the film is sitcom material but I think the fact that it feels like watching a sitcom speaks to how well its made. You feel for the characters like you would in a sitcom but Apatow and the actors have managed to create that feeling in one feature, something that usually grows over a whole series in sitcoms. There’s not a moment of the film that wasn’t funny in my eyes, the occasional emotional punch would you set you up for more laughs to follow shortly and the cast deliver the incredibly witty script with the comedy chops we’ve come to know them for. But then there’s two kids played by Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow’s actual daughters who may bring the most laughs of them all.
I found This is 40 to be an insightful, funny look into the lives of an ageing married couple and family life in general. Not quite as slow as Funny People but not quite as fast-paced as Knocked Up it sits somewhere in between the two finding the perfect balance of laughs and heart, ignore the reviews this is one of the most enjoyable flicks you’ll watch this year.