“It’s two-thirty in the damn morning! That’s when Mark Wahlbergs wake up.”Oh, Titus Andromedon. How we’ve missed you.
If you’re looking for a pitch-perfect project that’s both distracting and interactive (distract-eractive?) during these uncertain quaran-times, the new “Choose Your Own Adventure” Kimmy Schmidt movie on Netflix (also see: Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch”) is a grand, howling watch.
News of a possible Kimmy movie has been bubbling for a few years now. The series ended on a decent-enough high, with an acceptable amount of closure, so a continuation wasn’t anything we necessarily needed, but these are fun characters and the series is one of the last remaining feel-good, positive-vibes comedies from the previous decade (which has always been a miracle considering its dark-as-hell premise) so bringing this world back for a quick, raucous romp is a welcome slice of whimsey.
Kimmy vs the Reverend’s emotional core is kind of a retread of the dark fears and anxieties Kimmy’s already overcome, sure, but the show’s fierce jokes still rattle off rapid fire, hitting you like mirthful missiles, and the narrative weaving of the “chose your journey” gimmick adds a bit of meta-flare to the proceedings.
The movie never splinters viewers off into sprawling, dark spirals like “Bandersnatch,” obviously, nor does it offer up wildly different outcomes to land on. There’s most definitely a path, and sometimes you’re offered up a comically-laced “do-over” when you’ve made the less-than-correct choice. In fact, some of the first avenues you take drastically switch things up in the third act so there’s ample opportunity to mess around with the decision making. The writing is crisp and clever, as usual, making the in-house, self-referential nuggets regarding the “choice is yours” shtick (where one wrong move even lands you in an alternate timeline with a cloned Kimmy) never feel outside of, or foreign to, the Kimmy wheelhouse we know and adore.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend Gallery
What worlds are left for Kimmy to conquer, you might ask? Well, there’s marriage, to Daniel Radcliffe’s Prince Frederick (a role that, along with TBS’ Miracle Workers, helps the Harry Potter icon solidify his comic chops) as well as one final showdown with Jon Hamm’s Dick Wayne. Which is kind of a no-brainer plot-wise given Hamm’s almost unfair ability to be so damn hilarious after spending the better part of the last decade refining brooding, introspective drama.
While Kimmy discovers a clue that points toward the ridiculous Reverend Dick (prison gane name: Vete Pedefilo Blanco) possibly having a second bunker, with even more victims, still out there (there’s that crazily morbid longline again!), Titus rails against a new movie action role (because it means getting into shape), Lillian attempts to “temp” Frederick during a Bachelorette party, and Jacqueline, in one of the movie’s funniest (and possibly most niche) sidebars, gets locked into a rambling lecture from a screenwriter.
Because Kimmy Schmidt is a comedy, and a surreal one at times, there’s a huge amount of playfulness present when it comes to the stalling “time to make a choice” moments, where the characters have to engage in chewy chatter while the viewer makes up their mind. These are often coy and cutesy cutaways where writers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (along with Sam Means and Meredith Scardino) use whatever’s at their disposal to craft comic interludes – even going so far as to make Lillian and Sara Chase’s Cyndee literally say who they are over and over for those who might get character names mixed up.
Want to see the Reverend explode? Want to hear Titus slay (or butcher) “Free Bird?” Kimmy vs the Reverend is a labyrinth of laughs that actually encourages you to make the “wrong” choices first because the stakes are never not soaked in silliness. Plus, guest spots from Jack McBrayer, Josh Groban, Johnny Knoxville, Chris Parnell — and even Kimmy-verse characters Yuko-3000 and Jan the Backpack — help make this an even giddier affair.