Considering the lukewarm reviews it received in its country of origin (not to mention its weekly hemorrhage of viewers), not even the bravest pop culture prognosticator would predict U.S. success for Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High followup, Angry Boys. I mean, how far can one man take gratuitous poo jokes dressed as social commentary? Not very far apparently. Especially when Bra Boys jokes sail inert over your audience’s head and blackface has cultural ramifications beyond that one Hey Hey It’s Saturday skit that wasn’t very funny. But don’t take out word for it.
Following the series premiere on premium cable network HBO this week, the series was swiftly panned by The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal with reviewers calling it “low-brow”, “unfunny” and “boring”. Here’s the pick of them and yet more confirmation that S.Mouse is one of the worst characters to ever grace a television screen.
Wall Street Journal: “But such moments never last long. That leaves only the flashes of comedic brilliance, and even they don’t light up the sky very often. Leaving us to wonder whether Mr. Lilley just misplaced his mojo or has an uglier view of the world than he used to.”
Variety: “But I suspect part of that has to do in part with a failure to separate the general idea and execution from just how thin, in terms of comedy, Lilley’s shtick is, with an exaggerated emphasis on foul language and moments of general discomfort to obscure those shortcomings. And I don’t think that reaction is cultural as much as it is simply a case of the show being low-brow and, once Lilley gets past the basic conceit, uninventive.”
The AV Club: “Thus far, the episodes aren’t especially strong on their own…Angry Boys doesn’t feel quite like the instant phenomenon Summer Heights High was.”
New York Daily News: “It’s good for a comedian to be bold, innovative and unafraid. It’s not so good for a comedian to be unfunny.”
New York Times: “The problem with “Angry Boys,” which begins on Sunday night, may be HBO. Perhaps it was the influx of American money that persuaded Mr. Lilley to inflate his latest mockumentary: going up to 12 episodes (from 8 for “Summer Heights” and 6 for “We Can Be Heroes”) and casting many more actors in supporting roles. The expansion emphasizes the sameness of his writing and his performances, and makes the payoffs of the jokes feel small.”
The Boston Globe: “The mixing of those elements – crassness, poignancy, social commentary – is a hard one to master, and Lilley doesn’t always succeed in tying them together in a way that is funny beyond the amusing cringe of recognition.”