Maya & Marty: Episode 4 – Faltering (Review)

Maya & Marty - Season 1

The guest list was shortened, Ricky Gervais and Cecily Strong , but Maya & Marty still faltered in the comedy department.  This is a show I desperately want to like but thus far the show’s output is outdated, forced, too long and only occasionally funny. Do not let the audience reaction fool you. The  poor folks trapped in the studio setting are prompted and cajoled into laughing hysterically.

Granted there were a few standout moments. The Gervais and Jiminy Glick segment was amusing only in that “The Office” writer and star was good value for money.  Cecily Strong always manages to get a laugh  or two in and she featured in the only other passable skit in the episode.

Maya’s Sophia Loren commercial started out well but soon fell into that show biz trap where the writers assume the audience know far too much.  The introduction of Short as Leonardo who sounds like Cary Grant would be lost on anyone under the age of 40.  It would even be questionable whether those over the cut-off age would know of Grant’s obsession with Loren,or even care who Loren was.

The two stars made a couple of films together and on “Houseboat,” Cary became besotted with the Italian star. The Oscar winning  Italian sex symbol told of  the “affair” in her autobiography. A book that was most likely read by your grandmother, and not your mum.

Maya & Marty - Season 1
Sophia Loren and Leonardo (Martin Short doing Cary Grant)

The opening monologue was a let down. Shrieking like  a pair of Mancunian fishwives Short and Rudolph did their best Dick Van Dyke cockney impressions.  Apart from being annoying the slang thrown into the sketch was inaccurate.  (Note: Knackered is slang for being tired not being pissed (drunk) and the quote “Lovely Jubblees” – which was used constantly in  Only Fools and Horses  – is “lovely jubbly” a cockney saying it is the singular and not the plural.)

Cecily Strong appeared in three sketches, the Mexican morning television parody, Mario Bros and the air traffic controller segment.  To be honest the latter skit felt like it was influenced by the old Carol Burnett long running sketch “Momma.” Regardless the three skits  were amusing if not actually overly funny.

Maya & Marty - Season 1
Don’t you hate Stacy?

Out of all the sketches the air traffic one was the best and Gervais meeting with Click (Short) came a close second. The latter skit worked because Ricky seemed to be having so much fun. The Mexican morning show came in third, mainly because of the Trump and Hilary gags and the Mario Bros sketch was nostalgic but not laugh out loud funny.

So far the variety show is limping into its first season and missing the comedic mark. Four episodes in and the series is still faltering in terms of pacing and comedy that tends to go on too long. (Or completely misses the mark.)

The  episode highlight was the Broadway for Orlando number midway through the show. Just released via iTunes the song, performed by a number of well known actors who tread the boards, was a heart warming segment.  The proceeds of this song go toward the families of those killed in Orlando.

Maya & Marty - Season 1
What The World Needs Now

The feel good moment made up for the usual ho-hum comedic offerings and it would be nice to  see Maya & Martin actually performing a higher type of comedy. Leave aside the pale imitations and reliance upon outdated gags.

Both Short and Rudolph are talented and funny people and regular Kenan Thompson does not look embarrassed to be on the show.  This SNL summer replacement may still find its feet and start delivering.

Maya & Marty airs Tuesdays on NBC.  Hopefully it will get funnier, until then it is #faltering.

 

Special Correspondents (2016): Ricky Gervais Does a Remake (Review)

Eric Bana, Ricky Gervais Netflix Special Correspondents

Written and directed by Ricky Gervais “Special Correspondents” is a Netflix Original remake of the 2009 French comedy “Envoyés très spéciaux” (So not quite too original after all.).  Starring Gervais, Eric BanaVera FarmigaAmerica Ferrera,  Kelly Macdonald and Kevin Pollak (with a cameo by Benjamin Brat) the film retells the tale of two radio journalists who miss their flight to cover a war (insurgence) in Ecuador.  They decide to hide in New York, their port of origin, and cover the conflict from the loft of a friend’s house. 

Bana is Frank, a local radio “newsman” who is a legend in his own mind and has a mini following of fans in his neighborhood. Gervais is the radio sound engineer, and Englishman aboard, Ian Finch. Farmiga is Eleanor, Ian’s wife and natural self promoter and MacDonald’s character Claire has a thing for co-worker Ian.  Pollack is the man in charge of the radio station.

Finch’s wife kicks him out of the house after sleeping with  Frank and in his misery Ian inadvertently throws away the tickets, expense money and passports needed for the journey to Ecuador.

Hiding out at Brigida and Domingo’s house, the men set up and begin transmitting from the location across the street from their offices at the news station.  This allows for some funny interaction between Brigida (Ferrera) and  Domingo (Raúl Castillo) as the journalist and his technician report on a conflict they are half a world away from. 

Perhaps the only real complaint is the focus on radio news. (Although there are several instances where broadcasts are referred to as podcasts, presumably in an attempt to bring the film’s plot up to more modern times.) In this day and age of Internet coverage, even from major networks, it seems that the radio angle is a bit outdated.

While this movie is based upon the two men, Bana and Gervais, it is the women who steal the show here. Farmiga’s opportunistic and enterprising wife who writes a song about her husband’s captivity “A Dollar for a Hero,” is brilliantly funny and is a favorite character.  The other female to yank this film from under the feet of the male co-stars is “Ugly Betty/Superstore” star America Ferrera.

Ferrera is hysterically funny as the rather simplistic cafe owner who delivers her lines with an impeccable honesty that just kills comically.  Whether commiserating over Finch’s wife selling his “dollies” (his superhero collectables) or shouting out Tío Miguel (because he is deaf) America is one of the most amusing characters on the screen.

Both Gervais and Bana do well in their roles but lack the naturalistic comedy emitted by both Farmiga and Ferrara.  Bana wisely plays his role straighter than straight as does Gervais. The two work well together as reluctant colleagues in their unplanned subterfuge.

Not having watched the original French version, set against a conflict in Iraq, it is hard to compare the two films.  The American iteration includes a shootout and an escape. It is a funny sort of scene and no one appears to die.

Cinematographer Terry Stacey makes the film look brilliant.

There are moments in the feature where Gervais pokes fun at Fox News, specifically Bill O’Reilly, and clearly Benjamin Brat’s character was meant to be Brian Williams. There is also a segment where the rebel leader, made up by Frank, undergoes a sort of news anchor Chinese whispers. The last one in the chain is clearly O’Reilly and it was funny.

“Special Correspondents” is not a parody of global news coverage, although it does jab a few “American news institutions” and pokes fun at the need for “instant” news regardless of sources or verification.

Fans of Gervais will appreciate the film and his wearing of three hats for the production.  At 100 minutes the movie is not overly long and the pacing works very well. At no point does one get bored or reach for the remote to fast forward the events on screen.

As a straight to Netflix production; “Special Correspondents” garners a full 4 stars. It is funny, fast paced and while Farmiga and Ferrera almost steal the film, everyone delivers a performance that lacks nothing.  Watch this one for a giggle or two and some outright guffaws at America’s portrayal of Brigida.

Jennifer Lawrence Nude-Gate Not Down to Apple Says Company

Jennifer Lawrence Nude-Gate Not Down to Apple Says Company

With all the fuss about Jennifer Lawrence and her “nude-gate” issues flooding the net, along with the other hacked celebs, Apple have come forward to say that the leak is not down to their company. Supposition early on in the whole Labor Day Weekend affair was that the culprit was iCloud or the Apple app “Find My Phone.”