Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Film Yap: Eastbound and Down Season Two

You do not have to like your protagonist. You do not have to agree with your protagonist. All you have to do is find the protagonist interesting enough to carry you through the story.

Meet Kenny Powers.

When we last saw Kenny Powers he discovered that he was not making it back to the big leagues so he abandoned the love of his life at a gas station. He drove off without telling his family or his (sorta) co-workers where he was going. Just like the massive jerk he is.

He ended up going to Mexico to gamble in a cockfighting group. He used to be a big shot baseball pitcher, but his arrogance and obnoxious behavior left him sinking lower and lower. The only friend he has is his creepy superfan Stevie Janowski (Steve Little), who will travel to the ends of the earth just to make Kenny happy. And he does. He joins Kenny in Mexico, abandoning his life of teaching.

Just like Season One, this season is shot like a full-length movie. The seven episodes tell one full story of pseudo redemption and enlightenment for the man too thick headed to learn anything. He recognizes certain moments would be a time for an epiphany, but he treats it like accomplishing a checklist instead of feeling genuine emotions.

The extreme vulgarity of Kenny Powers is the draw of the show. Danny McBride is at his best when his character is unredeemable. He never wants sympathy, which allows him to reach new levels of terrible behavior. The character is at his best when he’s up against relatively nice people. The school provided that in Season One, but in Mexico some of the strongest laughs are when he’s tormenting the minor league baseball team in the area.

That said, my favorite scene in the series is just Danny McBride, Adam Scott, and Matthew McConaughey riffing and thinking of the dirtiest metaphor they can up with. The show is full of great talent including the hilarious Michael Peña and Ana de la Reguera. Jody Hill and David Gordon Green take turns directing every episode; they have established the perfect balance of rooting for and against Kenny from scene to scene.

The arc really ends at Episode Six, but the show is smart and adds one more episode. They take the character to a place that hints at a great conclusion in Season Three. The show tells a dark story that could only be on HBO. Audiences haven’t always responded when this team has told this sort of humor in cinemas. On cable, they are able to fully voice their comedy that I hope will find its way into a new story after this ends next year.

The bonus features are relatively slim. There is a 9 minute making-of, which is the cast and crew complimenting each other. The outtakes are a bit fun because the Mexican midget sidekick may actually be a crazy violent person. There is also a feaurette on cockfighting, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries.

Season: 4 Yaps

Extras: 3.5 Yaps

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