Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein overview: David Harbour flexes his comedy chops

If it weren’t clear earlier than that Netflix is shifting additional and additional into extra experimental content material — Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Anima, The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Expertise — then Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein cements the shift. A 32-minute mockumentary starring Stranger Issues’ David Harbour as a fictionalized model of himself (and co-produced by indie darling A24), the particular is among the stranger issues to hit the streaming platform, although additionally maybe a harbinger of Netflix’s “an excessive amount of” ethos encroaching upon its smaller initiatives as properly.
Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein, which is streaming now, refers back to the televised stage play that Harbour’s (fictional) late father, David Harbour Jr., wrote and mounted as his last work. Harbour has dug up the footage with a purpose to be taught extra about his father, recreating his workplace in addition to his chili recipe in an try and stir the recollections of the individuals who knew him. The particular cuts between present-day footage of Harbour, components of the play, and outdated clips of Harbour Jr. and his friends, portray an image that’s entertaining sufficient, if not essentially a superb justification for its personal existence.
Of these three components, it’s naturally the stage play that dominates the particular, as each solid member — Harbour, Alex Ozerov, Kate Berlant, Alfred Molina (!!!), amongst others — overacts to a comic book excessive, with the general aesthetic resembling the American Gothic cleaning soap opera Darkish Shadows. It’s the loudest portion of the particular — and can also be the sort of bit that feels prefer it may need carried out higher as an excellent shorter skit, counting on Harbour’s comedic abilities, or an extended bit, which might have given Berlant, Ozerov, and Molina extra of an opportunity to domesticate some depth somewhat than counting on hamming it up as their single character trait.

Harbour in a flashback sequence.Allyson Riggs/Netflix

For higher or worse, the particular unquestionably belongs to Harbour. That middle thrives when he’s left to his personal units, as within the footage of Harbour Jr. in interviews and commercials through which he comes off as a form of parody of late-period Orson Welles, snarfing down beef Wellington or declaring, at numerous factors, à la Jon Lovitz, “And THAT’S how I bought into Juilliard!” Harbour is nice at taking part in that sort of pomposity, which finally appears to be the purpose of the particular somewhat than growing a coherent story.
To wit, the scenes that happen within the current tend to wander (regardless of the presence of Mary Woronov and Michael Lerner as Harbour Jr.’s former colleagues). Harbour’s journey in discovering what a cad his father was holds little water as a result of he doesn’t appear to have been so invested in him to start with. That flimsiness — which isn’t all the time crippling for comedy specials like this, as The Lonely Island has proved — makes it tough to speculate a lot within the proceedings, which implies viewer consideration could start to wander even earlier than the half hour is thru. It’s the identical precept by which Netflix’s TV sequence started feeling bloated, filling out unnecessarily lengthy sequence orders and padding episode lengths to a level that finally dragged them down.
That stated, Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein continues to be price recommending by advantage of its transient runtime and Harbour’s hamminess. (Berlant, as all the time, is nice, however simply not given sufficient to do; the identical goes for Molina, whose inexplicable look is a pleasure but additionally a waste.) It’s additionally, nevertheless, the loosest and least cogent of the specials that Netflix has but produced, suggesting that the “throw issues on the wall and see what sticks” technique that defines a lot of what seems on the platform is hitting its extra revolutionary sidebars, too.
Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein is streaming now.

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