Summer 2015 Review: Documentary Now!

21 Aug

Documentary Now!

Documentary Now! is a series of entirely stand alone documentary parodies that seem to roughly mirror specific documentaries and documentary styles. Helen Mirren opens each episode, posing the series as celebrating the 50th anniversary of hallowed documentary anthology Documentary Now! by showing noteworthy documentaries from the program’s history.

The first episode is quite obviously a Grey Gardens parody. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Grey Gardens, the celebrated ‘70s documentary about an eccentric mother and daughter in Eastern Long Island, so my review is somewhat limited. Since it’s a positive review, however, I’m confident regardless that I’ll only like future episodes whose subjects I’m more familiar with more. Fred Armisen and Bill Hader play a reclusive mother and daughter, respectively, like Big and Little Edie from the original, who are pretty batty and live in a somewhat isolated house that is in shambles. Like the original Grey Gardens, the documentary is being filmed by a pair of brothers.

There are surely distinctive little Grey Gardens touches I’m not getting, and I wish I was, but I really don’t need to get them to appreciate this show for what it is; a couple of people just having a ton of fun, spoofing specifics but also getting a chance to be extremely silly. The amount of fun they’re having comes right through the TV. Oh, and Documentary Now is pretty funny as well.

The Grey Gardens parody takes a turn in another direction, and while it’s not particularly surprising if you’re watching, it is natural, and it was funny. The two characters are delightful weirdos and their interaction is fantastic before the plot twists at the end. It’s a very unserious half hour that takes a great concept and has a really good time doing it. There’s really nothing not to like here. Fred Armison and Bill Hader are having a ball. The show is short, silly, and to the point, and with the format, there’s no need for consequences.

I know this is a short review, but there’s no complicated characters or themes. It’s funny, and it’s short. Just watch it.

Will I watch it again? Yes. It’s funny. It’s short. It’s fun. It has people I like. Why the hell not?

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