An hour and a half of throwback Jersey awkwardness

1 / 5 stars

For a movie that tries to ape your favourite 1990s sitcom, The Antelope Party is surprisingly frigid. Though it manages to capture that ‘90s feel — which, whatever you may think about it, is a magical experience — the amount of ’90s humour that comes through is much more stifled and restrained than it might appear to be on the surface.

(Indeed, though you couldn’t feel more like you were watching Friends during the movie’s ’90s revival, it’s far more emotionally interesting than the average sitcom.)

The whole movie sets up a spoof of Friends like you wouldn’t believe. There’s a hidden-camera confession box setup, there’s a Seinfeldian scene involving pizza, and one of the characters finds himself ambushed by Central Perk’s resident sourpuss, Sue (Stephanie Sahlan). (Not only does the crew forget her, they shoo her away with the high-pitched unenlightening loud voice).

But unlike Seinfeld, The Antelope Party, written and directed by Ivan Licht, is far more interested in its friendship angle than in anything quirky or quirky-progressive. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t really have legs to sustain itself.

© R2F2 / Kino Lorber With veterans Joey Berk, Jesse Nelson, and Emma Thompson

In fact, the fault really is a fault that’s plaguing many of Netflix’s comedies of the moment: they seem to have a severe tendency to gravitate towards a cliched tone of sunny sass and good-natured trash.

A pithy line of dialogue on a given topic isn’t enough to keep it afloat for two-plus hours. The closest thing to some sort of emotional connective tissue comes in the movie’s climactic non-mockumentary (that’s kind of the point, right?), which appears only after the characters have spent an entire hour talking about nothing other than an increasingly idiotic sketch about obnoxious, spoiled California mothers.

You sense that The Antelope Party is operating out of a “keep it light, kids” mindset that’s inexplicably skewing toward childlike, basically nonsensical behaviour. The cathartic sense of relief comes from the glimpse of a happier future, even if the movie looks absurd from the outside.

Maybe the group realizes they’d been wasting their time. Maybe even you would have ditched the movie after a straight half-hour.

Leave a Comment