A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie is a comedy starring, directed, and cowritten by Jeff Garlin, a favorite of Curb Your Enthusiasm fans. Garlin plays "Gene Handsome," a socially awkward police detective who lives an isolated, lonely life with his beloved Great Dane. A grisly murder occurs. Handsome gets the case and his efforts to solve it lead him to a gaggle of oddball interested parties and suspects, some back in his own neighborhood. Everything, other than the mild poignancy of Handsome's personal life, is meant to be funny, and that includes a decapitated body, brash sexual advances, and frequent off-color language. Expect to hear profanity (i.e., "f--k," "s--t"), frequent references to sex and bodily functions (i.e., "p---y," "rectum," "t-ts," "vagina," and "d--k," "booty call"), and a few ethnic or sexual gender jokes (Jewish, Japanese, a gay stereotype). A few fights, one fueled by alcohol, and the aftermath of the movie's one murder are the only scenes that contain or imply violence. Sexuality consists of come-ons, kissing, and a man waking up in bed after a sexual liaison. Characters are shown drinking beer and with other adult beverages in bar and party scenes. Not for kids.
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What's the story?
A schlubby, lonely police detective must find a brutal murderer in HANDSOME: A NETFLIX MYSTERY MOVIE. Gene Handsome (Jeff Garlin) is increasingly aware that his life is going nowhere. The love of his life is Candy, his faithful Great Dane. Other than that, he has no real friends, no social life, no self-respect, and is awkward in almost any situation. Enter a new neighbor: hot, single mother Nora (Christine Woods) with her unstable daughter, Carys (Ava Acres) and an amazing synchronicity. The dead woman whose decapitated body is found on actor Talbert Bacorn's (Steven Weber) front lawn turns out to be none other than Nora's babysitter. Gene, along with his partner Detective Fleur Scozarri (Natasha Lyonne), cover a lot of ground in their investigation, both on the mean streets and lush streets of Los Angeles, but no obvious suspect emerges. At least, not until Handsome puts two and two together -- with a lot of body lotion "cementing" his suspicions.
Is it any good?
A self-loathing, overweight sad sack; an incompetent police force; and an array of horny and/or opportunistic women combine to make this mostly unfunny spoof hard to watch. All that, coupled with vulgarity, zero suspense (the murderer is identified in the first scene), and a pace that is deliberately and ineffectively slow would seem to ground Handsome from the outset. But all is not lost. The Great Dane is simply great, the most lovable character in the show. And Steven Weber's narcissistic actor is hilarious. Presuming that much of the film is improvisational, Weber really nails it as an actor who is "used to a lot of attention." Jeff Garlin has bands of passionate fans from his wonderful role in the off-beat, improvised HBO winner Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it's hard to believe that the hipness of that show will carry over to find fans of this lame effort. Not recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of the literary and film term "character arc." How does such a character arc contribute to an audiences' overall satisfaction with a story? In what way(s), if any, does Gene Handsome's character change in Handsome? Is he better off, worse, or the same when we leave him at the end?
Talk about the popularity of "gross-out" or "raunchy" comedies. What audience do you think Jeff Garlin and company intends to reach with this film? In what ways does this movie have value for that audience?
The opening scene of this movie identifies the murderer. What do you think is the storyteller's purpose of that unexpected reveal? How did it lessen or enhance your enjoyment of the film? Why?
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