Continued Watching for Dr. Doolittle

There’s no doubt that I am a Netflix cliché in that with the thousands (OK, I’m in the Czech Republic) the hundreds of options I’m given, I choose to watch things I’ve seen two hundred times. These appear in my Watch it Again section. Jaws. Lord of the Rings. Ghostbusters. Every Indiana Jones installment. Friends (I know, shut up). Brooklyn 99. Buster Scruggs. The War.

Tonight we go for a light-hearted comedy mystery, one of my favorite genres, and we watch Murder Mystery. This is the one starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as a married couple on a European tour who end up in the middle of a real life murder mystery. Since his big hit films in the 90s, Sandler has been hit or miss. Aniston is usually just fecken funny and she’s usually in fecken funny flicks. The movie totals in at 1:39 minutes. We’ll give it a chance.  

We last 31 minutes.

Oh it’s not terrible. Sandler does the Sandler voice. Aniston is as good as she usually is, and the storyline is set up quicker than in one of Dennis Miller’s sentences. They’re a dissatisfied married couple, bored in a routine, she’s neglected, he’s an underachiever, they meet a stranger on the plane, etc. Cool.

The thing is, like lots of other comedies on Netflix, it has a very unpolished, rushed, unfinished quality to it. As if it was on the way to being a great comedy, but before it could get there someone pushed it out the door. My feelings towards this are evident in my Continued Watching section.

Continued Watching for Dr. Doolittle: Historical Roasts. Like Father. Wine Country. Sandler’s special. Martin Short and Steve Martin. Dave Attell and Jeff ross. The Last Laugh.

I have found Netflix to be a wonderful addition to my viewing. As a person who desperately (see above) sticks to his tried and true favorite shows and watches them until he can do every character’s lines and offer ESPN-like analysis on scenes, it’s been great to broaden my old man horizons. That said, it seems that while the bill of fare is broad, it’s also sort of half-assed.

I haven’t looked around dem internets, but I’m sure this has been mentioned by critics and viewers alike. It seems that some very brilliant comedy names are trying to cash in on Netflix’s policy of “say yes and turn it out quick,” but by doing so they are lowering the quality of (at least) the comedy.

Adam Sandler’s Fresh was so dull as to make its title seem almost ironic. No laughs. Not one. Martin Short and Steve Martin traded 30 witty barbs a minute, each of which fell short into the land of the groaning eyeroll. Attell and Ross were the same. Historical Roasts will one day get its own roast. And then there’s the “let’s throw these old comics together before they die” section, which is getting big. Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfus, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, to name two.

I suppose we are getting a glimpse into what happens if comedy isn’t worked on obsessively until it’s (forgive the term) perfect. Any fan of standup knows that a comedian develops a routine, tests it out in small clubs and venues, rewrites obsessively, and repeat that for a year or so before they are ready to bring a show to the public. And it shows. There’s a reason Louis CK, Eddie Murphy, Bill Burr, and Christ Rock sell zillions of tickets and albums and why their bits are repeated by fans as if Led Zeppelin lyrics.

This also goes for your favorite comedy movie. Even if an actor is said to adlib his or her lines, the script is obsessively rewritten until it’s almost as tight as geometry. Don’t be fooled by the ease with which the actors or comedians seem to deliver, this is only a testament to their talent and the writing.

Comedy is hard, if it works it’s because it’s been obsessed over for a million hours. If it doesn’t, then what you get is a lot of the comedy on Netflix. I think it’s good that we are seeing this so that we can compare amateur to professional. However, I think Netflix and the comedians who want to put out shows should show a little more patience and turn out less material of better quality after an appropriate period of time. I don’t mind waiting.

Until then, Dr. Doolittle will be watching Jaws and Ghostbusters.

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