Only Murders in the Building: a clash between generations of comedy (review)

Those who are a little older should remember that, in the 80s, Steve Martin was the absolute king of comedy films. He had one success after another. I’m talking about classics like Dead customer doesn’t pay (from 1982), A spirit descended on me (from 1984), Parenthood – the shot that didn’t backfire (from 1989), Roxanne (from 1987), Before just bad-accompanied (from 1987), among many. But the years passed, the style of comedy changed, and Steve Martin disappeared from our screens. He remained only in the memory of fans.

To the delight of those who miss the old movies in Afternoon sessionSteve Martin is back, with the series Only murders in the buildingfrom Hulu, a project created by Martin in partnership with John Hoffman (producer of Grace and Frankie). The nostalgia, by the way, doesn’t stop at the actor’s name. The series – which is a comedy, but which mixes typical elements of the police genre – also features actor Martin Short (another comedy veteran, and Steve Martin’s partner in the success the bride’s father, from 1991), and pays homage to the “mystery comedy” style that was so well explored in some Woody Allen films, especially those that create humorous situations from very serious events (as are, of course, the murders). .

The premise of Only murders in the building is as follows: three somewhat depressed neighbors eventually cross paths in the elevators of the majestic Arconia building in New York. They exchange nothing less than a nod or an occasional good morning. But one day, everything changes: the building is evacuated because of a crime that took place inside. They end up discovering that, a few minutes earlier, the three had taken the elevator together with a young man who was murdered.

The three neighbors – who are played by Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez – end up discovering that they have something in common: they are passionate about podcasts style true crime, that retell the story of true crimes in engaging narratives. The format is a real fever in the United States, but also in other countries, including Brazil.

Because of this, they feel a bit like detectives and think they might be able to unravel the truth about the murder before the police do. From there, it’s a leap for them to want to team up to investigate who killed Tim Kono (played by actor Julian Cihi).

Meeting between generations

(Source: Hulu Disclosure)(Source: Hulu Disclosure)Source: Hulu Disclosure

the big balcony of Only murders in the building is that the series promotes an involuntary debate about generational differences. The first layer of this discussion, which is perhaps the most obvious, takes place when the actors meet. Here, veterans Steve Martin and Martin Sheen opposite Selena Gomez, a star teen emerged at Disney and is now building a career as an adult actress.

But there are small details that little by little indicate what there is in common between the old and the young. The three characters, each in their own way, are bored and melancholy. Steve Martin is Charles-Haden Savage, a retired actor famous for an old crime series, Brazzos (probably a reference to the series Columbo), but, as shown in the first episode, he seems to embitter oblivion. Finding it difficult to indulge in relationships, he has become something of a misanthropic bachelor.

Martin Sheen plays Oliver Putnam, a megalomaniac musical director who refuses to face his own failure. He has lost his family because of his irresponsible behavior and is about to be evicted from Arconia for not paying his rent, but even so, he is unable to take action on his life.

Selena Gomez – who is old enough to be their granddaughter – is Mabel Mora, a sullen girl who lives in favor of her aunt’s house and is also tied to bad memories acquired in the building. In other words: regardless of their age, everyone there is very lonely and unhappy.

The other layer of this commentary on generational bridges involves precisely the genres present in Only murders in the building. The series, which is a classic police style whodunnit (style that focuses on finding out who committed the crime), referring to classic novels and films, is constantly updated by the contemporary phenomenon of podcasts, that usually mobilize a very engaged audience. The result is that Only murders in the building It ends up looking like it’s a new and old series at the same time.

A mix of mystery and humor

I do not intend to give spoilers here, so I won’t get into the plot of the crime itself. But I will share in this text some information about the plot that may already be explicit in the name of the series: Charles, Oliver and Mabel come together to produce a podcast to publicly disclose his findings on the murder. O podcastclaro, se chama “Only murders in the building”.

The trio’s clumsy process to produce this material is the main source of the Hulu series’ humor. To a certain extent, this is almost always due to the ignorance of “grandfathers” Charles and Oliver, since the young Mabel, always smarter than them, carries the most dramatic colors. It would even be interesting to see Selena Gomez taking more risks in comedy.

The story of the mystery itself turns out to be, in my opinion, weaker than the comic tone of the series. Even though there are moving moments – especially when the weaknesses of the characters are addressed -, the main attraction of Only murders in the building is the sharp text in the jokes.

It is also worth mentioning the supporting cast, full of well-known names in the comedy, such as Tina Fey, Nathan Lane and even a very funny participation by singer Sting (who lives in Arconia!). But if it weren’t for all that, just checking out once again the wonderful performances of Steve Martin and Martin Short would be reason enough to marathon. Only murders in the building.

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