Reviews: Review of “Friends: The Reunion”, with Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer (HBO Max)

17 years after the end of the series, the cast gathered for a 104-minute special intended purely and exclusively for fans who, of course, are legions around the world.

Attention: this text contains spoilers

After multiple announcements and successive delays (Coronavirus by means of), the long-awaited special was finally released with the reunion of the six protagonists of Friends, the mega hyper arch popular series that had 235 episodes over 10 seasons (1994-2004) and – according to what we are informed – has more than 100,000 million views.

As with any artistic event, the greater or lesser interest that this special directed by Ben Winston arouses will largely depend on how much fan of the series each viewer is. In my case, in the “crack of sitcoms” (please read between smiles) I was always more than Seinfeld what of Friends (For a reason, the podcast that we host with Pablo Manzotti is called About Nothing), but many times since 1994 I waited for the day and time each new episode of Friends (yes, there was a time when there were no streaming platforms and binge-watching could be done only if a marathon was scheduled on the cable or if you bought the boxes with the VHS or DVDs that were released once each season was over. ).

Did the meeting of Friends? No. Did I have a bad time? Either. It has its funny moments, its surprises and discoveries, but this special for which each of them charged 2.5 million dollars (yes, you read that right) looks in too many passages overproduced and hypercalculated. In fact, the best moments are those that “come off the script”, when spontaneity, the unexpected, the inconvenient emerge. Unfortunately, there was little room for improvisation.

What is the special about? Basically, from an interview that the Englishman James Corden does with the six of them together with the source that appeared in the titles, from some talk and the inevitable quiz in the now mythical film sets, from the reading of scripts that serve to recover highlights of the series, and the very short-lived appearances of people who participated in or declared themselves fans of the series (Reese Witherspoon, Tom Selleck, Christina Pickles, Elliott Gould, Maggie Wheeler, James Michael Tyler, Mindy Kaling, David Beckham, Kit Harington, the Koreans from BTS); a nice guitar-in-hand duet between Kudrow and Lady Gaga singing Smelly Cat (see video below); and a costume show featuring from Cara Delevingne to Justin Bieber, including Cindy Crawford. The rest are bloopers, trivia such as the memory of participation of celebrities (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Danny DeVito, Ben Stiller, Julia Roberts), anecdotes and jokes of the protagonists and testimonies of fans whose lives have been marked by Friends.

When David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller) and Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing) enter the studio in that order, they meet again, they embrace and they see images of the end of the last chapter of the series, everything is served for what these 104 minutes are destined to be: a nostalgic ode, a self-celebration, a tribute to something that influenced several generations and, of course, it consecrated (and also limited) that group of artists. They are fatter and with less hair, they with a few operations and thick layers of makeup on top that have taken away their expressiveness, at times seem like members of a champion team that meets again a long time later to remember and celebrate that already distant title. And, yes, there is some of that.

At times, the best contributions are not from the lead sextet but from the true makers of Friends (David Crane, Marta Kauffman and Kevin Bright) and the use of archive material that allows us to know the true backroom of the filming, with a live audience whose reaction was shaping the story and even forcing things that were written in the strict scripts. Clear that the interest of the fans will be put in the revelations and confessions of the interpreters, like the much more than “good vibes” that Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer had during the first seasons; or Matt LeBlanc’s dislocated shoulder during filming (and how they fixed it)

A final addition tinged with political correctness. Except for a joke when Kudrow distributes tissue paper (they ask him if they passed the COVID test) and a poster that appears in the closing credits in which tribute is paid to all those participants of the series who have already died, there is no in the special references to the global pandemic situation. FriendsLike all sitcoms, it was always shot indoors with sheer artifice, disconnected by complex from the real world. And this meeting neither could nor wanted to get out of its bubble.

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Reviews Review of Friends The Reunion with Jennifer Aniston Matthew