May 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm #348032
Excited! The Spoils of Babylon was a lot of fun with Tobey Maguire and the score particularly worthy of praise.May 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm #348033
The Spoils of Babylon was a great underrated miniseries. Excited to see this!May 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm #348034
Sounds great! Very game for Michael K. Williams’s addition here doing comedy. As long as there is no Tobey Maquire anywhere to be found, I’m excited for this.May 7, 2015 at 8:31 am #348035
“Banned around the world almost five decades ago, The Spoils Before Dying is a gritty and unrelenting tale of forbidden everything,” said IFC President Jennifer Caserta. “We may all wind up in jail, but this epic tale of sex, drugs, violence and jazz WILL be seen.”July 7, 2015 at 10:36 pm #348036
TV Review: “The Spoils Before Dying”
Courtesy of IFC
July 7, 2015 | 07:45 AM PT
TV Columnist @blowryontv
appeared to be clamoring for a follow-up to “The Spoils of Babylon,” but how
often does IFC get the opportunity to feature Will Ferrell and a lot of his
famous pals for three hours? Enter “The Spoils Before Dying,” another six-part
sendup courtesy of Ferrell’s Funny or Die banner that the channel will air over
successive nights. A slightly more polished product than its predecessor, which
lampooned vintage miniseries, this one is more of a noir-ish thriller, once
again featuring Ferrell’s pompous, bloated novelist-turned-filmmaker Eric
Jonrosh as tour guide through an uneven homage to showbiz in the bad old days.
What makes these latest “Spoils” more watchable, or at
least more interesting, is the casting of Michael Kenneth Williams (“The Wire,”
“Boardwalk Empire”) in the central role, bringing all that glowering intensity
to the service of something completely silly. That Williams plays it almost
entirely straight while his co-stars ham it up around him doesn’t entirely
work, but it at least provides a bit of foundation to hang something remotely
resembling a story around.
As usual, Ferrell’s Jonrosh gulps wine and recounts his
glory days in intros to each of the six half-hour episodes that clearly seem to
have been culled together from one improv session. Frankly, after his Lifetime
movie “A Deadly Adoption” and now this, one sort of wishes he’d devote his time
to making something overtly funny and ditching the arched eyebrow, but it’s
pretty obvious nobody at IFC was going to look a gift movie star in the mouth.
The plot, such as it is, casts Williams as Rock Banyon, a
jazz musician who instantly becomes a suspect when his singer/one-time
girlfriend Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph) turns up dead. The cops give Rock
three days (after some haggling) to try to clear his name, which leads him on a
trail of dead bodies, a conspiracy involving closeted homosexuals, and back
into the arms of a former paramour, Delores (Kristen Wiig), who, like Rudolph,
gets to wear funky outfits and sing bluesy numbers.
Directed by Matt Piedmont from a script he wrote with
Andrew Steele, “The Spoils Before Dying” reprises all the familiar cheap-TV
gags, from horrible green screens and model work to shadows that don’t quite
match up during a fight scene to the heavy product placement throughout for
cut-rate products. (That last element, frankly, is more prevalent today, but at
this stage, why split hairs?)
There are, admittedly, some funny bits strewn throughout—Michael Sheen delivers one of the better moments—but even at a little over
two hours of actual screen time minus commercials, this feels as padded as
Ferrell’s well-stuffed wardrobe. And when Jonrosh dismisses the audience at one
point (“Most of you are idiots anyway”) and later congratulates them at the
outset of part six by saying, “You made it,” well, it’s hard not to slightly
agree with him.
Ultimately, these limited series highlight the tricky
proposition of expanding parody from sketch or Web-video length to something
more substantial—think Mel Brooks’ genre-spoofing movies, or “Dead Men Don’t
Wear Plaid”—and how that tends to create a gap between being genuinely funny in
that guise and merely quirky. If that sounds somewhat harsh given that “Spoils
Before Dying” isn’t bad, when you name a company Funny or Die, to quote Super
Chicken, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.
TV Review: ‘The Spoils Before Dying’
(Special; IFC, Wed.-Fri. July 8-10, 9 p.m.)
Produced by Funny or Die.
Executive producers, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Matt
Piedmont, Andrew Steele, Nate Young; producer, Kristen Wiig; director, Piedmont;
writers, Steele, Piedmont; camera, Giles Dunning; production designer, Mark
Snelgrove; editor, David Trachtenberg; casting, Lauren Grey. 3 HOURS
Michael Kenneth Williams, Kristen Wiig, Ted Levine, Haley
Joel Osment, Maya Rudolph, Michael Sheen, Tim Meadows, Chris Mulkey, Emily
Ratajkowski, Chin HanJuly 7, 2015 at 10:43 pm #348037
I loved The Spoils of Babylon, so I’m looking forward to this. Thanks for the reminder.July 7, 2015 at 11:04 pm #348038
Hollywood Reporter’s review:
Spoils Before Dying”: TV Review
2:41 PM PDT 7/7/2015 by Keith Uhlich
Bottom Line: There’s little soul in this jazzy satire.
Airdate: 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 8th–Friday, July 10th
Cast: Michael Kenneth Williams, Kristen Wiig, Maya
Rudolph, Will Ferrell
second parody miniseries based on the work of fictional author Eric Jonrosh
(Will Ferrell) is hardly a swinging affair.
To the victor belong the “Spoils,” though it’s unlikely
viewers will feel they’ve won much of anything with this follow-up to 2014’s
epic miniseries pastiche “The Spoils of Babylon.” The target there was bloated
TV events of the ’70s and ’80s like “The Thorn Birds” and “Rich Man, Poor Man,”
popular doorstop novel adaptations which drew out their soapy dramas over
multiple episodes. Each installment was introduced by “writer”/“director” Eric
Jonrosh (Will Ferrell), a later-years-Orson-Wellesian blowhard who pontificated
on his genius in-between unhealthy gulps of red wine.
Jonrosh is back, a little heavier and just as hifalutin,
as our guide for the beat-era cinema parody “The Spoils Before Dying.” With this
“Spoils,” he says, he aimed to invent a new genre called “post-post-modern
French neo-fake-ism.” Instead, so the alternate history goes, his druggy noir
about a jazz musician wrongly accused of murder was banned and is only now
being seen for the first time, divided into six half-hour parts airing over
The opening scenes are funny mainly for their joke
titles, which reference shooting formats like “Bastille-o-Scope” and include
credits for “Metaphysical Visual Consultant” and “Inner Ear Collages By….” Then
the story proper begins with ivory-tickling bluesman Rock Banyon (Michael
Kenneth Williams) narrating—in primo hard-boiled-ese—a twisted tale of
conspiracy and murder. It starts with the death of his former girlfriend,
singer Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph), and a businessman named Stygamiun
(Richard Halverson) from bullets to the temple. The crime is pinned on Banyon
and the cops give him three days to clear his name.
And what a packed three days it is, as Banyon reconnects
with another ladyfriend crooner, Delores O’Dell (Kristen Wiig), is tailed by a
prissy Hispanic gangster played by the notably non-Hispanic Chin Han, and
uncovers a crazy plot involving the Mattachine society, FBI head honcho J.
Edgar Hoover, and a poetry-spouting hepcat (like, a literal cat) named Dizzy
(voice of Peter Coyote). All this while Banyon simultaneously avoids recording
the “strings” album that his bawdy British manager Alistair St.
Barnaby-Bixby-Jones (Haley Joel Osment) is demanding his client make to bolster
his musical profile.
The look of the miniseries, which like “The Spoils of
Babylon” was co-written and directed by Matt Piedmont, is frequently
delightful, with its garish colors and intentionally cheesy effects work.
(Transitions between scenes often make use of Mr. Rogers-esque models, with toy
motorcycles and cars moving around as if pushed by an unseen child’s hand.)
Williams makes for a good beleaguered hero because he plays the whole thing
straight, while almost everyone else around him clowns it up to irritating
degrees. The notable exception is Michael Sheen as closeted businessman Kenton
Price. He walks the line between heated melodrama and ribald farce expertly;
just listening to the way he says “homosexual” (HAH-muh-SESX-oo-ul) is enough
to elicit chuckles.
Despite the occasional laughs, though, this is still a
one-note premise stretched excruciatingly thin, evidenced in an early scene in
which Wiig’s chanteuse belts a spirited ode to “Booze ’n’ Pills.” It’s funny at
first, but Wiig never deepens the jest, merely repeating the lyrics (just
“booze ’n’ pills” over and over) with minor variation until her paltry attempt
to wring laughs becomes glaring. (Call it “SNL” syndrome.) Compare the sequence
to its seeming inspiration—the hilarious “I’m Tired” musical number from Mel
Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” featuring Madeline Kahn as an exasperated
Dietrich-like diva—and its feebleness is even more pronounced. It’s this same
sort of skin-deep comedy that’s stretched out over the entirety of the
miniseries, to the point that at the beginning of episode six, when
Ferrell-as-Jonrosh says, with evident exhaustion, “You made it!”, it hardly
feels like he’s having a laugh.
Twitter: @keithuhlichJuly 7, 2015 at 11:25 pm #348039
I have it set to record back at home in Maryland to be ready for it when I go back in August! I can not wait!