Thursday, April 12, 2018

Movie Review: "Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" (2017)

Director: Jeff Garlin
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Detective Gene Handsome and his partner Detective Scozzari try to solve the murder of a young woman, who happens to be Handsome's neighbor's babysitter.
"Something very interesting is going on." (Image Source)
When it comes to Netflix originals, some of their movies feel like they could easily be successful in a theatrical setting. Other times, they can feel like a pilot episode of an unproduced television series that will never come to fruition. "Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" definitely feels like the latter. It is directed by Jeff Garlin, who is best known as a character actor in numerous TV comedy series like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Arrested Development." Garlin has also been in his fair share of films, including "The Rocker" and "The Bounty Hunter." He is one of those actors that might not be recognizable by name, but his face is familiar. Besides directing this movie, he also helped write it with "Laggies" screenwriter Andrea Seigel. Going full-on Orson Welles (just like John Krasinski in "A Quiet Place"), Garlin also plays the titular role of Detective Gene Handsome. Gene is a lonely man who is desperate for companionship and is also a great homicide investigator. When his neighbor's babysitter is murdered, Handsome and his partner Detective Fleur Scozzari (Natasha Lyonne) look into who may have killed her.
"This is a very well creamed body." (Image Source)
There are some murder mysteries that are whodunits like "Gosford Park," "Charade," and "Murder on the Orient Express." These are the types of murder flicks that the audience is trying to solve along with the characters on screen. They must gather and piece together the same clues the detective gets and try to solve the crime based on that information, leading to a surprise ending. Then, there are murder movies and shows like "Columbo" where we know the culprit from the beginning and the entertainment comes from watching the detective(s) figure it all out while finding the correct culprit. "Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" tries to do the latter, but isn't successful in accomplishing its goal. We know the killer from the first scene of the movie because Steven Weber breaks the fourth wall in the first minute of the film and tells us that he is the murderer. If there is no real mystery to keep the audience engaged, the task then falls to the characters who are trying to solve the crime and must keep things interesting. If they aren't completely enthralling, neither is the movie. In this case, though moderately entertaining and occasionally funny, none of the people in this film demand or command the audience's complete attention all the time. We found ourselves chuckling here and there at a sporadic display of wit or a random sex joke, but the movie never brings uproarious laughter and it is never consistent.
"I wouldn't call four strippers playing with your dreidel collection a house party." (Image Source)
Going back to what we said earlier in this review, "Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" has the tone and pacing of a TV episode rather than a feature-length movie. It feels like it's meant to be watched by people who are only paying attention half of the time so they can look up from their phones once in a while and catch all of the funniest bits without missing any necessary information when it comes to the plot. While we weren't completely captivated by this material as a film, we would have watched the hell out of this if it were a weekly TV show where Detective Handsome was tasked with solving a different murder each episode. Alas, that's not what happened. While "Handsome" isn't awful, it's only mediocre at best, and we all deserve better than mediocre.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.3/10
RT Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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