“You look like ‘Shooty the Clown’” – Seb Piccirillo.
Some slight cracks are beginning to show within the depths of Jeff Pickles in the second installment of Kidding. He’s more Carrey-esque in his television performance and is beginning to branch out into the more risque language he’s steered clear from thus far. After last week’s attempt to destroy the hold his father Seb has on him as a profitable one man brand by shaving a huge line across his head, Jeff is allocated a replacement designed to keep the show (and its sponsors) running smoothly.
Seeing Jim Carrey’s scalp once again on display brought back vivid memories of his receding hairline within I Love You Phillip Morris, although unfortunately it is swiftly swept under the rug and doesn’t actually make much of a dent plot-wise. In terms of engagement, Kidding’s second episode ‘Pussilanimous’ starts strong with a nicely-told sped up montage of Jeff’s car being stolen by a gang of hoodlums only to be returned immediately when they realise whose car they’ve stolen. One of the thugs recognising ‘Uku-Larry’ in the trunk is a particular highlight, and is a nice reminder of how wholesome and respected Jeff is to millions around the world. It’s a hell of a lot more subtle than having Frank Langella’s Seb keep bringing up how profitable he is all the time.
In my favourite sequence of the show so far, Jeff visits a young boy in hospital with a similar bald streak through his hair and imparts a marticomb of wisdom and joy. It’s a moment of of genuine humanity that allows Jeff to shine as a character, funnily enough a lot like Carrey seems to when he’s on chat shows. It’s brilliantly undercut by a pitch black refrain that paints the whole scene in a darker light too, as the boy then proceeds to tell his mom giddily that Mr. Pickles suffers from brain cancer too. This is the type of humour that the show excels at. The puppetry smiles of children’s edutainment contrast with black comedy perfectly and it’s a match made in heaven. The only problem is that a lot of the show seems to think that just having sexual references and swear words equates to good material. Plus the whole focus on Seb being allergic to bees seemed far too out of place and jarring to make any sense, though I’m assuming it’s some form of set up for something later on in the series.
Jill’s new boyfriend Peter is introduced in this episode formerly, and his awkward interactions with Jeff (who still lives secretly in the house next door) highlight a lack of chemistry between the actors. Cole Allen who plays Jeff’s son Will strikes a nice balance with Carrey, as does Judy Greer (criminally underused as usual) at times, but often it feels as though Carrey is the only one who really nails the tone that the show’s going for.
He’s the star sure, but he needs to draw in his energy from those around him or else the show becomes a muddle of average vignettes tempting us with the promise of some kind of emotional payoff. This is evident in the directing too. For a show directed by Michel Gondry, it seems as though he’s really restraining the creativity throughout a lot of the show. During the titular ‘Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time’ he shines, and there’s a glimpse of some of the creativity that’s on display during the special effects sequences on the show, certainly enough for me to keep my fingers crossed that we might be getting an entire episode that’s just ripped straight from the show itself.
Catherine Keener’s Deirdre is delegated what feels like thirty seconds to confront her husband about the incidents of last week, as she caught their daughter’s piano tutor giving him a happy ending outside the house. I’m assuming there’s more to come from this plot thread but there’s so little to gain from the representation of this episode that it just felt moot.
I can’t help but feel as if Kidding would feel more comfortable as an hour-long show, as it seems like we’re not going to get enough time with these characters to allow enough of an emotional payoff. I’m all for being proven wrong, and Carrey is continuously brilliant at portraying a nuanced and grief-stricken father, but the rest of the show seems to be struggling alongside him at the moment. Even so, it may just be teething problems as other shows have often needed multiple episodes to find their feet.
“The hard part isn’t getting out [of television], it’s getting back in”. – Jeff “Pickles” Piccirillo.
Maybe just like Jeff’s forgotten cooker, the pressure’s going to build up to something very soon…