Monday, April 22, 2024

“Friends” Reunion was A Great Infomercial, Utterly Surface, Very Much Like a Real College Reunion


I couldn’t help thinking how sad the “Friends” reunion was. It was an infomercial at worst. At best, it was like a real college or high school reunion. All surface, with lots of underlying pathos.

The worst situation was Matthew Perry. Bloated, unable to speak properly whether from dental work or something else, Perry once dated Julia Roberts, for god’s sake. He was touted as having Tony Randall similarities in the early comedies in which he was featured. As my teachers used to say, he had so much potential.

But there he was, bloated, hair a mess, he was obviously late to the taping. I think it’s Jennifer Aniston who mentions it. It’s also Aniston who a few times calls Matt LeBlanc “Joey” during the show. Does she know “Friends” is over? Can she not remember his real name?

Anyway. The women all look great. Two of the three have had tough marriages. But they’ve all remained friends, and they’ve been successful beyond “Friends.” Aniston and Courteney Cox, we know, see each other a lot. Lisa Kudrow, who stole the reunion with her Lady Gaga “Smelly Cat” duet, seems like she’d be voted all around Most Successful.

But the guys. The guys! LeBlanc, who was so good in “Episodes,” looks like he’s been home eating cannolis for a year. And he had a year to get ready for this reunion, which was delayed by the pandemic. David Schwimmer: botox, facelift? I don’t know. He’s still very funny. But whatever he’s done to himself, he should try and undo.

And back to Perry: he talks about how desperate he was for laughs on the show. In flashbacks you see his weight swings. At one point he’s so thin, skin and bones, I thought how good it was there no social media then. He’s heartbreaking. I saw Matthew Perry in an off Broadway play he staged a few years ago. Few people have aged so poorly. What is at the core of his unhappiness?

Oh, plus: apparently Matthew Perry started a T shirt line or some clothing thing a few days earlier, to tie into the reunion show. Is he broke? How could he have gone through all that money? That cast made a fortune! (Also, doesn’t Warner TV own all those tag lines?)

As for the rest: James Corden was fine, they needed a moderator, why not him? The worst moment was Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles, who were treated with little respect. I’ll bet that’s why Marlo Thomas didn’t do this special. Waving from the audience. My god, that’s Elliot Gould, not just some guy from central casting. Christina looked great– she’s 86! — I remember her from “St. Elsewhere” and “Another World.” God bless.

The guy who played Gunther got short shrift, no surprise. The actual surprises were Maggie Wheeler returning as Janice. She gave it her all. And the guy who played the landlord in maybe one episode. He’s still alive! And, of course, Tom Selleck, who’s made so much money from “Blue Bloods” I’m surprised he even did this.

The rest of it was kind of random, indistinct. Who were all those pedestrian fans from other countries? Actors? Particularly the ones who weren’t white? Weren’t they wondering why no one in the show ever was non-white? That the “Friends” could have lived in Greenwich Village for a decade and not run into one such person?

Well, it’s over. Let the reruns play, over and over, beyond our final rests, so that Elon Musk can take them to Mars and show them there. And please, if the song says “I’ll be there for you,” can’t any of those people do something for Matthew Perry? I feel like we need a GoHelpMe page for him.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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