Parents' Guide to

Mr. Corman

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Dramedy with surreal moments has great cast, some language.

TV Apple TV+ Drama 2021
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He writes, directs, produces, stars, sometimes even performs music in some episodes, so it's curious that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's central character feels pretty blank in this fitfully arresting series. Gordon-Levitt is a talented creator, that much is clear; Mr. Corman is at its best when the titular teacher is engaging in spirited classroom discussions with his fifth graders, and in the moments when the show takes surreal flights of fancy to focus on a musical duet between Corman and his mom, or following Corman into a colorful fantasy of outer space as an infuriated woman slaps him through an imaginary glass window and into orbit. It's also no surprise that Gordon-Levitt is a relatable performer, or that solid cast members like Arturo Castro and Debra Winger contribute stout, lived-in performers.

Perhaps the problem is that even though Corman is surrounded by interesting characters, he seems most focused on himself: a vaguely dissatisfied thirtysomething man-boy who doesn't appreciate all that he has and wonders if this is all there is. It feels like we already know this character, we've already seen from him and heard from him in a spectacular variety of comedies and dramas all celebrating a coming of age that's, in Corman's case, rather shockingly late. The camera always centers Corman in its frame; when he talks to others, they seem mainly focused on what he's doing and thinking rather than discussing their own lives. Mr. Corman has its moments; it isn't a complete swing and a miss, but mostly lacks the insight to bring freshness to characters and dilemmas we've seen too many times already.

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