★ ★ ★ ★
“If you enjoy a bit of tongue in cheek humour, this special keeps the tongue securely clamped down.”
Netflix has slapped down a thirty-two-minute-long special in which the content is as ludicrous as the notion that they would even consider funding it. And thank God they did. Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein is a bonkers deviation from their usual stream of high budget originals. It does not intend to create a financially successful cult series, or to compete with Hollywood blockbusters – it is only a delightfully silly romp.
The mockumentary follows David Harbour playing a fictitious version of himself, exploring his father’s acting history. Harbour comes from a long line of actors (all of whom look suspiciously identical to Harbour, genetics be damned) and his father has a mysteriously tumultuous past that revolves around his televised theatrical special Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein. The title alone should be all the insight you need for this special; prepare for the nonsensical. The special’s perspective swings from the past televised special to Harbour’s present-day fictional investigation and interviews. The televised special follows Frankenstein – or maybe his monster? – as they, and a stooge disguised as Frankenstein, try to trick a young investor into believing in an experiment that may or may not have worked. It’s okay if you don’t understand the plot, because clearly everyone involved in this fake production didn’t either.
There is an undercurrent of ridiculous pompousness that floods every scene, whether that be from the “serious” nature of the documentary or from Harbour’s father, who considers himself an ac-tor, after all that’s how he got into Juilliard! If you enjoy a bit of tongue in cheek humour, this special keeps the tongue securely clamped down.
The acting ranges from measured to wild. In the documentary segments, the acting style is sensible yet subtly ridiculous, reminiscent of Curb your Enthusiasm, where the absurd is played straight faced. The playback of the televised theatrical is a delightful splurge of silliness. From the excruciating over-acting to the shoddy production design and insane stage direction, it’s a hilarious buffet of ham. Harbour leads both segments and plays preposterousness excellently. It’s clear he has a lot of fun in the role, especially when playing his brash father, drunkenly slurring through readings of accompanying commercials between segments. Supporting roles like Kate Berlant are equally tonally perfect and great fun to watch, with the cast steering towards Clue (1985) inspired ridiculousness. One of the most absurd components of the special is the sudden inclusion and underuse of actor Alfred Molina, who plays a blink-and-you-miss-him part in the fictional special and an equally short part in the mockumentary. It can only be assumed Molina was friends with someone in the production, or perhaps just happened to be on set the day of filming, but however odd it may be his addition to the cast is welcomed.
Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein is a short and sweet special which leaves you wanting more absurdity. We can only hope Netflix invests in more one-off skits of this nature while they continue to build their vast catalogue.
Dir: Daniel Gray Longino
Cast: David Harbour, Alex Ozerov, Kate Berlant, Mary Woronov, Alfred Molina, Marion Van Cuyck and Heather Lawless
Release date: 16th July 2019
Available on: Netflix