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REVIEW: Bobcat Goldthwait Gets Dark & Twisted with Misfits & Monsters

The second episode, titled “Face in the Car Lot” in an obvious nod to Elia Kazan’s 1957 political satire A Face in the Crowd (which starred Andy Griffith as a deceptively nasty folk hero who becomes a political sensation), again places a supernatural creature in the middle of everyday life. Set in the 1970s, it stars David Koechner as used-car salesman Del Wainwright, who’s recruited by a slick political operative (Dave Foley) to run for president. The catch is that Del is an actual werewolf, which functions as a rather basic substitution for any number of dark secrets that people who run for political office try to hide.

Although it’s set decades in the past, the episode clearly uses Del as a stand-in for Donald Trump (he even uses a very Trumpian “some people are saying” sentence construction when lobbing vague accusations at his opponents), and the political allegory is a bit clumsy. Goldthwait offered similarly blunt social commentary in his 2011 film God Bless America, and his points here are just as broad. Even if the message isn’t all that compelling, the episode is still entertaining, thanks to the fun '70s costume and production design, and Koechner’s enthusiastic lead performance. Koechner showed off his ability to play creepy in 2013 cult film Cheap Thrills, and here he delivers the perfect balance of sleaze and menace.

Goldthwait returns to the faux-documentary format of his movies Willow Creek and Windy City Heat for the third episode, and it’s the one that feels most like an overgrown comedy sketch, with a documentary filmmaker tracking down a former teen-pop star named Caleb Faustini, whose fame and fortune came thanks to a literal deal with the devil. The jabs at vapid pop music are pretty weak (and were handled better in similar scenes in The Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which had an equally Justin Bieber-like protagonist), and Goldthwait’s use of the found-footage format is muddled, never quite clear on who’s putting the footage together or how it was captured.

Still, Michael Ian Black is amusing as a passive-aggressive version of Satan who’s mostly bummed out that he gave amazing talents to such an annoying douchebag, and it’s refreshing to have a more lighthearted episode (even with Satan as a main character) after the very dark first two installments. Black is a talented improviser, and an entire episode just featuring his riffs on Satan as a bored middle manager would have been enjoyable enough.

Even with the varying quality of the episodes, Goldthwait demonstrates an impressive range of filmmaking talent, and Misfits & Monsters isn’t quite like anything else on TV. Goldthwait delivers a complete short film with each episode, exploring different styles and approaches all under the umbrella of the supernatural. He may not exactly be the next Rod Serling, but he’s certainly come a long way from the hyperactive comedian with the screechy voice.

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