Hardly Boys

We’re really enjoying Only Murders in the Building, which is unfolding weekly like an old-fashioned TV show, which is what it is. When I heard about it I wondered how it was going to be different from Woody Allen’s MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, and in fact it’s different enough but still a similar kind of thing. Comfort food, somebody on Twitter called it. It won’t make you smarter but it is smart in itself — the age-gap jokes between Steve Martin and Martin Short’s characters and Selena Gomez’s are very clever and funny. It is more successful than THE THREE AMIGOS, the guys’ previous screen collaboration (which I have a sneaking affection for).

Steve Martin Short has fantastic timing with themself, which you would expect, but it’s SO good it’s still surprising, and Gomez slots right in. The show also features the best screenwork of Sting, who has either evolved into a capable actor, or else is just enlivened by really good material. And evidently can take a joke, For the record, the previous best use of Sting was THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, where he just stands there for a scene, then gets taken out and shot (off camera). That was funny too.

10 Responses to “Hardly Boys”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

  2. David Ehrenstein Says:

  3. bensondonald Says:

    Thought: Steve Martin and Jerry Lewis may both be ranked as all-around comic geniuses. The key difference is Lewis aggressively built his brand and wanted everybody to know it at all times, while Martin seems intent on cultivating the image of a dilettante who’s just trying something, and if anything trying to lower expectations.

    “Three Amigos” was okay. Now and again I wished they’d played it just a hair straighter and let us believe in the oddness. The skit with the invisible knight was a gag too far.

    My one major disappointment from Martin was “Roxanne”. Yes, it was well done and often hilarious. But at some point Martin or somebody decided to protect his Cyrano from any serious pain or threat: His fire department never faces real danger, he has no powerful enemies, and front man Christian all too conveniently proves a jerk and trots off with another girl.

  4. I like Roxanne fine, but I probably prefer his sillier ones. Three Amigos falls in between. Richard Lester considered doing that one, and came to a meeting bearing stills of Mexican bandits, interested in the real history. Steve M said, “We just want to make a big dumb movie,” and Lester said something to the effect of “Sorry, I’m not clever enough for that.”

  5. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Fassbinder was crazy about THIS

  6. David Ehrenstein Says:

    I wish I could find a clip from “In a Year of 13 Moons” where Gottfried John and his men do that Martin and Lewis number

  7. I’ve been scouring my Reader to find someone else who’s following this show, and I’m so happy to have stumbled across your post – which I very much enjoyed reading (starting with the clever “Hardly Boys” title…That could’ve been a great thing to call the show – or at least a fitting name for Mabel’s new crew.). :)

    I think I’ll start referring to them as “Steve Martin Short” and “themself”. They really are a unit. :) Also, I was hesitant about Selena Gomez being in the mix (on first impression, it seemed a desperate effort to be “relevant”) – but you’re so right, the combo just works. And I agree, Sting was a great sport who showed real potential. I’d like to see him try his hand at more acting.

    I’m really enjoying the show – almost to the point of obsession. :) (I’ve seen the first six episodes, and look forward to watching the latest one tonight.) I love a good mystery, and I appreciate that it’s such a well-rounded mix of so much more. I’m into the “classic with a modern twist” style and puzzle-piece storytelling – plus its dreamy “fancy New York in the fall” aesthetic.

    As for thoughts on the murders, Theo is one of my top suspects (either on his own or along with Teddy). I’d also like to work in Cinda and her look-alike assistants somehow, as I feel something is off there. :/ According to IMDb, one of the assistants (whose character’s name is Poppy White) will at least be in the final episode – and the other one (Cindy – who interrupts Cinda to let her know the call is in) is actually played by Steve Martin’s wife, Anne Stringfield! :D (She’s only listed as being in Episode 4 so far.)

    Right now, I think maybe Theo (and/or Teddy) did everything but actually kill Tim. Or they may have poisoned him as well, but Cinda (and/or Poppy) also shot him (which may explain why there’s a note on the laptop as well as paper drafts – multiple attempts by different people). The Cinda connection is admittedly far-fetched, as I assume neither she nor Poppy live in the building (although Cinda IS “parent friends” with Charles’ neighbor, Arnav) – but something just strikes me as off about her and her assistants. Same with Theo. Even if they’re both innocent, I feel they’ll be important in some way. :)

    That’s all I have as far as theories. What about you?

    Also, I’m a blogging newbie – having launched my blog, The Classic Film Connection, in July. I’d love for you to check it out! https://classicfilmconnection.wordpress.com

  8. Theory-wise, I’m just waiting and seeing. The slow reveal of new subplots makes this one not really ripe for guessing, and it won’t become a fair-play murder mystery until the penultimate episode when all the facts are in. Having the rival podcasters be involved is certainly a way of paying off their involvement in the story in a fresh manner.

  9. That’s true about the fair-play aspect. I just can’t help playing detective! :) Thanks for the follow! <3

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