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Peep World


Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. In this case, the land of milk and honey… I mean… the land of film and television ran out of unique dysfunctional families. We have the kind-hearted son, the screw-up looking for dad’s affection, the daddy’s girl who is always at war with her mother and the neglectful, success-oriented patriarch. No, we are not talking about the Bluth family – even if you wish we were. We are talking about the Meyerwitz family from Peep World.

Grade:

Henry Meyerwitz (Ron Rifkin) is a supremely successful business owner who never wanted children, but ended up with three sons and a daughter. Each one has his or her faults and problems.  Unfortunately for them, the youngest, Nathan (Ben Schwartz of Parks and Rec or House of Lies), released his family’s information in his tell-all book, Peep World. Naturally, Jack (Michael C. Hall), Joel (Rainn Wilson) and Cheri (Sarah Silverman) are none too pleased to have their dirty laundry placed in front of the public. The tensions accumulate resulting in a hectic and awkward family dinner celebrating dear old dad’s birthday.

As you may have guessed, Peep World has a deep cast that just gets deeper as the film goes on. We have narration by Lewis Black and supporting roles for the under-appreciated Judy Greer, Stephen Tobolowsky, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Mara and a small role for Octavia Spencer. Packing that much star power into an eighty-minute film is a daunting task, but director Barry Blaustein tried it anyway. The result turned out to be a lackluster romp of the Arrested Development persuasion, but without the same raucous, intelligent humor.

Everything about Peep World stays on a certain level of mellow humor. To be honest, a story of this caliber has the potential to be a great show that gets cancelled too early. By jamming it all into a quick film, we are never given the opportunity to care about the characters. The closest we get to an emotional connection is with Jack and Laura (Hall and Greer), but that is more due to Hall and Greer being utterly talented than anything in the script. Schwartz and Wilson come out as the big winners by showing a bit more range than what they are known for. Both are known as the snarky – in slightly different ways – character, but here they are given the chance to show a character that has a heart and feelings (Wilson does this as well in Super – review to come). Meanwhile, Silverman is completely uninteresting and her character is so obnoxious you can’t stand her by the end, even though she has the least amount of screen time.

 Despite it all, Peep World is entertaining and comes from a good place. This is unfortunate considering the pure disappointment one feels watching because the raw potential it possessed. You can’t help but feel Peep World is simply an amazing opportunity wasted.

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