Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: "Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" is a by-the-numbers yet satisfying murder mystery

Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie
 As an avid movie watcher, there is no genre that I put before another. I don't think I'd be able to do this blog very well if I wrote off movies of a particular genre simply because of what they are. I will admit that there are genres I prefer over others. One of the genres I prefer over other genres is the mystery movie. The film noir movie. I love a great mystery, I like a movie that keeps me guessing. That buzz can keep me on the edge of my seat, make me get goosebumps. You can do just about anything with the mystery genre, even comedy. Netflix recently released a mystery movie entitled "Handsome."

There is a comedic edge to the film that takes place right at the very beginning. We see Steven Weber (the one who used to star on TV's "Wings") get out of a pool. He immediately introduces himself as the killer. Right away, we already know that a chain of events will lead this man to murder, but why and how is still not on the table. Weber is being goofy throughout, this doesn't feel overly-serious or anything, but something the audience is going to have fun with if they open themselves up to the experience. After Steven Weber introduces himself as Talbert Bacorn, we are off to the opening credit sequence. There is seedy music, surreal images in black-and-white, and the whole time, I was getting giddy.

Jeff Garlin, from ABC's "The Goldberg's" stars as Gene Handsome. A successful and on-point police detective operating in Los Angeles. He's not a hard-boiled detective like we see in film noir movies. But he's lonely, he has nobody to come home to, except his loyal dog. New neighbors move next door, Nora (Christine Woods) is a single mother living with her daughter Cary (Ava Acres). They have a protective babysitter that Handsome meets during a neighborly cookie delivery. The next day when Handsome is on duty at the next crime scene, he sees the babysitter cut up into the Star of David. Of course, we already know who did this, but we start on the road with Handsome as to why and how she got caught up with the killer.

"Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie" follows the same tropes we find in mystery movies. The evidence stacks up. We see Handsome cozy up with Nora and there is some kind of a romance there. Handsome conflicts with his superiors. This isn't a dog-chasing-his tail type of movie though. This isn't something that is going to make you scream at your own television. There are some funny moments. I really enjoy Garlin on "The Goldberg's" and I find his sense of humor on par here. He's not playing a different version of his character on the show, a trap many actors fall into from time to time. He makes Handsome different from any of his other characters, which shows his range.

The rest of the cast is spot-on. Christine Woods is a delight here, and does good work. Natasha Lyonne plays Handsome's partner and she does good work here. She bounces off of Garlin with ease. Amy Sedaris plays Handsome's boss, and she has some funny material but her moments are the only one in the film that feel forced. Kaley Cuoco shows up at the end of the film with the pointless cameo appearance I can name. Which may baffle her fans.

The thing is that the movie is so ordinary that its not too exciting. Its so similar to every other mystery movie that its not completely fun watching it unfold. Yes, there is fun to be had here and yes they are toying with the entire notion of a mystery movie here. But, you will see so many similarities here that it begins to feel like pieces of other movies, instead of some kind of homage film. But at the very least, they do a good job assembling the pieces of the other movies, and making them feel original. More than anything, Jeff Garlin proves to be a fine leading man and I hope he gets more leading work.


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