2022 TV & Movie Reviews: The Rehearsal / Only Murders in the Building / On the Count of Three

The only easy watch is the one about murder.

The Rehearsal (Season 1)

The wildest thing I’ve seen on television since a documentary filmmaker unintentionally hot-mic captured Robert Durst‘s murder confession while he was peeing, The Rehearsal is alt-comedian (is this a term?) Nathan Fielder‘s follow-up series to Nathan For You. On that show, Nathan “helped” struggling businesses regain market viability with a series of outrageously complicated and hilariously executed business development stunts. The creativity on display in Nathan For You was absolutely undeniable, and while it pushed cringe comedy and professional ethics to the absolute limits, nothing could prepare us for the savage mind-fuckery of The Rehearsal.

Working with an actual budget, cause it’s HBO, Nathan gives real-life people a chance to rehearse for the biggest and most difficult moments in their life by hiring local actors to portray their friends and background extras, building to-scale representations of whatever location the event is taking place in and running the real-life person through dozens of hours worth of rehearsals. From helping a bar trivia maestro confess to his trivia team that he lied about obtaining a Master’s degree to helping a born-again, single Christian woman realize her dream of raising a child from age 0 to 18, Nathan‘s set-ups and methods are elaborate, shocking and maybe the funniest television I’ve ever seen in my life. Added to that are real, genuine moments of observation and in Nathan‘s case, unflattering self-reflection, while the series begins to collapse into itself and blur the lines between what’s real life and what’s the show. The final episode really break-dances on the line of professional ethics and is saved only by Nathan‘s totally honest, kind-hearted, and brutally self-critical attempt to rectify a grievous mistake made during production…and it somehow manages to be funny! I actually don’t think The Rehearsal is nearly as unethical, mean-spirited, or shallow as a lot of reality shows I’ve seen, and I think part of that is because it asks deeper questions about human behavior while those shows are just interested in boobs and stuff.

What’s most impressive about this show is the attention to detail given to every gag, seen through the meticulous reconstruction of existing structures, the unique oddity of the real-life people Nathan finds, and the staggering talent of the unknown local actors Nathan gets to play these people. Seriously, like four of these local actors deserve Emmy attention – the Angela actress, the trivia friend actress, the teen Adam actor, and the six-year-old Adam actor – all need guest acting Emmy nominations. They’ll never get them cause they aren’t known actors, but it would be nice.

In only six episodes, Nathan takes us on a wholly unpredictable journey, that while it is certainly not for everyone or even most people, will absolutely floor those who can handle it. I don’t even know if I can handle it, most people can’t handle it, everyone I know who watches and loves this show says that they can’t even handle it. They post on Facebook in ways they can’t even handle it. However you attempt to handle it, TV has never seen anything like this and I think it might prove to be one of the most significant milestones in modern television. And he’s getting a Season 2. Holy shit. Grade: A+ (HBOMax)

Only Murders in the Building (Season 2)

There are so many cynical, soul-crushing, traumatizing shows on TV and while some of them are truly excellent, sometimes the viewer just needs a goddang break. Only Murders in the Building is a show that, while about solving murders, is actually a really nice, easy-to-consume whodunnit. Part of this is because of the immense talents of stars Steve Martin and Martin Short, as well as a very good Selena Gomez performance (IMO, haters hit me up in the comments), and genuinely good, traditional storytelling. It knows how to unravel a good mystery at the perfect pace, and while it’s not as deep or as complex as a lot of shows out there, it doesn’t need to be. Season 2 is about as good as Season 1, despite having a somewhat rocky start. There are some good guest star performances (though the Cara Delevigne subplot seemed underbaked from the start) and the last two episodes eclipse anything from the first season. I wish some of the jokes, that weren’t Martin Short‘s screamers, landed harder and some of the supporting building resident characters were better developed. Still, it’s hard to be too critical of a show that’s as comforting as a bowl of warm potatoes. Grade: B+ (Hulu)

On the Count of Three

It’s clear Jerrod Carmichael has seen plenty of A24 movies, just by the look and feel of On the Count of Three. The emotionally detached characters, the off-center shots, the ironic dialogue (relatively laugh-free here and definitely not by design), all of it is present. It’s a “quirky” low-key millennial-focused drama about two friends struggling with depression who decide to just kill themselves. Val (Carmichael) wants to just get it over with ASAP but Kevin (the great Christopher Abbot Girls, Black Bear) wants to track down his sexually abusive childhood psychiatrist (Henry Winkler – supremely creepy) and gat the motherfucker before exiting this world. The film follows this final day they gift themselves in a very Wizard of Oz type of structure, where they visit fucked up people from their past one by one played by an assortment of comedians such as Tiffany Haddish and an against type J.B. Smoove. The main issue with this movie is that it doesn’t seem to know how to handle a topic as sensitive as self-harm and suicide. It decides on playing it seriously but then peppering in comedic punch lines and traditional set-ups that fail to land because Carmichael doesn’t properly transition from tone to tone or harmoniously blend them. What we’re left with is a movie that’s too dark and serious-minded to be a comedy and too hungry for a laugh to be a drama. Hats off to Jerrod Carmichael though because writing, directing, and acting for a project isn’t easy, and this serves as a good reminder of how not everyone is Michaela Cole or Bill Hader out of the gate. In terms of acting, Abbot is predictably phenomenal, so good in fact, that next to Carmichael‘s fine but thoroughly unspectacular performance, he proves wildly distracting. The movie proves more successful in parts than it should have been, mostly due to Abbot’s dedication and understanding of his character which ultimately gives us a deeper understanding of characters that at times, seem intentionally cryptic. Grade: C+ (Hulu)

ALSO STREAMING AND IN THEATERS:

TV

Better Call Saul (Season 6, Part Two)AMC+

Black BirdAppleTV+

Yellowjackets (Season 1)Showtime

Severance (Season 1)AppleTV+

Stranger Things (Season 4, Part Two)Netflix

Pachinko (Season 1)AppleTV+

Tokyo Vice (Season 1)HBOMax

Barry (Season 3)HBOMax

Atlanta (Season 3)Hulu

The Kids in the Hall (Season 6)Amazon Prime

Worst Roommate Ever Netflix

Bad VeganNetflix

I Just Killed My DadNetflix

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7Paramount+

Top Chef: HoustonPeacock

Photograph by Paul Schiraldi/HBO Rob Brown, Ham Mukasa, Robert Harley, Jon Bernthal HBO WARNERMEDIA HBO & HBO Max | TCA | Winter 2022 We Own This City

The Staircase HBOMax

Under the Banner of HeavenHulu

The Flight Attendant (Season 2)HBOMax

We Own This City HBOMax

Heartstopper (Season 1)Netflix

FILM

Prey (B) – Hulu

Fire Island (B-) – Hulu

Bodies Bodies Bodies (B-) – In Theaters

Nope (B+) – In Theaters

Star Time (B-) – Tubi

Licorice Pizza (A) – Amazon Prime

Candyman (B) – Amazon Prime

Belfast (C) – HBOMax

Malignant (A+/F/Whatever) – HBOMax

Jurassic World: Dominion (D) – In Theaters + $19.99 rental on Amazon

Moonfall (A+/F/Whatever) – $5.99 rental on Amazon

Pleasure (B) – $2.99 rental on YouTube

Crimes of the Future (B-) – $5.99 rental on Amazon

Parallel Mothers (A-) – Starz

Red Rocket (A-) – $6.99 purchase on Amazon

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A-) – $4.99 rental on Amazon

Cha Cha Real Smooth (B) – AppleTV+

The Worst Person in the World (B+) – Hulu

Zola (B+) – Showtime

Shiva Baby (A-) – HBOMax

LISTS & FRANCHISE REVIEWS

I Paid Someone $11 to Watch and Review the New American Pie and Then I Also Watched It

Franchise with Me: Leprechaun w/ Ben V.

Franchise with Me: Step Up w/ Audrey Farnsworth

Franchise with Me: Wild Things w/ Michael Palladino

Franchise with Me: The Kissing Booth w/ Ben V.

Leah’s milestone 30th birthday is on Christmas Eve, the same day as her brother’s wedding. Photo: Emily Osment, Casey Deidrick Credit: ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Astorga

2021 Hallmark Christmas Movie Guide w/ Audrey Farnsworth

Top 10 Thanksgiving Movies w/ Genevieve Rice

50 Best Westerns of All Time w/ Audrey Farnsworth, Genevieve Rice, Michael Palladino & Danny Gurrola

50 Worst Films of the 90s:

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