BINGE-R #34: Angie Tribeca + Three Weekend Movies
ANGIE TRIBECA S3
Streaming Service: Stan
Availability: All 10 episodes now streaming (plus S1 + S2)
It’s not exactly a revelation to say that while streaming services excel at commissioning original dramas, they often fall short when it comes to comedies. As much as you may readily binge on a tense new season of your favourite hour-long show, sometimes all you want is 22 minutes of distracting laughter. Stan’s Angie Tribeca, which was created by comic actor Steve Carell and his wife Nancy, aims for nothing else. A parody of earnest American police procedurals, it’s comic lineage takes in Get Smart and Police Squad!, the slapstick small screen comedy from the creators of Airplane! If a scene last longer than 30 seconds without a gag you must be inadvertently watching something else.
Part of the appeal is the utilitarian structure. Every episode, built around Rashida Jones’ titular police detective from the Los Angeles Police Department’s RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit), begins from the same spot of deadpan dedication with a case to solve. Jones, who was part of Parks and Recreation, one of the great sitcoms of the last decade, delivers hard-nosed lines with a straight face even as the sight gags, misunderstandings, and non-sequiturs pile up. Whether it’s launching into the credits for Angie Tribeca Miami or watching the squad’s German shepherd work a computer, the absurd is a constant aim.
You could skip the first few entries in season one, when the production was still picking up pace, but really the main differentiation comes from the celebrity guest slot, which has featured Bill Murray, Maya Rudolph and multiple visits from perennial overachiever James Franco. Star Trek’s Chris Pine features in the new season’s opener, playing a zoologist version of Hannibal Lecter in an extended riff on Silence of the Lambs, and one small but noticeable change is the addition of some barbed social commentary as the investigations now unfold. It’s not taxing, and it’s not always memorable, but if that works for you Angie Tribeca is very serious about silliness.
>> Bonus Binge: Similar to a degree, but stronger on character-driven humour, all three seasons of the NYPD sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine are available on Netflix, complete with the contrasting dynamic between Andy Samberg’s laidback detective and Andre Braugher’s wound tight superior.
THREE WEEKEND MOVIES
If you’re fascinated by the afterlife and/or Rooney Mara watch…
The Discovery (Netflix, 2017, 102 minutes): When a scientist, Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) proves that some form of an afterlife exists – upon death your consciousness leaves your body – millions of people start committing suicide to “get there”. This wintry, offbeat mystery is set several years afterwards, when the researcher’s distressed son, Will (Jason Segel) comes to visit his father, falling in along the way with Isla (the always compelling Rooney Mara), a young woman who becomes a resident of the secluded research compound. This Netflix original was written and directed by Charlie McDowell, whose last film, The One I Love, was a sharp comedy about relationship counselling and clones. The Discovery broods more, situated in a world of funeral fatigue, but too many of its ambitions are unfulfilled: the romance between Isla and Will is idealised and unconvincing, while the science-fiction machinations play out in an increasingly familiar pattern. It doesn’t get there.
If you want a ribald romantic comedy…
Sleeping With Other People (Stan, 2015, 102 minutes): In her follow-up to the roughhouse Bachelorette, playwright turned writer/director Leslye Headland takes the classic Hollywood romantic-comedy and turns it inside out with a seditious streak of reality. Layney (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) lost their virginity to each other at university, but when they meet again as 30something New Yorkers it’s at a support group for sex addicts. Mistaking sex for commitment and desire for love, neither is happy once they admit the truth to each other, so they decided to do something truly outrageous and start a platonic friendship. Headland has an earthy, engaging comic voice and the exchanges here crackle even as the movie actually reaffirms its faith in love as a force for personal good.
If you love Girls watch…
Tiny Furniture (SBS on Demand, 2010, 95 minutes): Much of what Lena Dunham has done with Girls was mapped out by the low-budget and autobiographical feature film she made at the age of 23, from the blithe uncertainty about career aspirations to mortifying sex scenes that straddle experimentation and vulnerability. Future co-stars Jemima Kirke and Alex Karpovsky also feature here, with Dunham as Aura, the daughter of a successful artist (Dunham’s real life mother, successful artist Laurie Simmons) who comes home to Manhattan with a degree but little else. If anything, Dunham’s precocious direction is better here than in her stints behind the camera on Girls, with a pointed emphasis on contrasting scale and a way of suggesting that a conversation’s real subject isn’t what’s actually being discussed.
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