Jeff Garlin is a clever and hilarious performer. You wouldn’t know that from watching Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie. Garlin directed, wrote, executive produced, and stars as Gene Handsome in this unfathomable clunker about a lonely homicide detective in LA. Yet, the film is so devoid of engagement, you would think the actor/filmmaker was tanking this project on purpose to honour a lost bet.
Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie is nothing more than a lighthearted, smug lark between comedic actors while Netflix pays their tab. The film is sold as a comedy, yet the eccentric dialogue breathlessly runs on without any thought towards the audience. A joke about someone’s “achey vagina” is almost missed altogether. Handsome is also pitched as a mystery, yet the villain confesses to viewers before the intro even rolls. All that’s left are hammy performances surrounding Garlin as he shrugs from one suspect to the next, ending with a pointlessly salty cameo by The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco as herself.
Style is absent, perhaps to insinuate the mediocrity of Handsome’s life. The narrative is also regimented, perhaps to express how much of the detective’s existence is routine. It’s odd how the film doesn’t evolve when Handsome develops a bashful crush for his next-door neighbour Nora (Christine Woods). When Handsome is trying to “play it cool”, Garlin could’ve portrayed a charming and coy switch with his character as Handsome breaks out of his shell. The actor/filmmaker, however, plays the premise straight, determined to deliver a subdued – and quite frankly uninteresting – whodunit based around the murdered babysitter who has looked after Nora’s kookily deadpan daughter.
It’s no mystery why this film fails: it’s disinterested in taking chances or finding a distinctive personality – case closed.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie