‘Friends: The Reunion’ delivers the one with a lot of unapologetic nostalgia

“Friends” signed off in 2004, and half of the particular’s enchantment is solely seeing the band again collectively once more, trying older (to various levels) and undeniably a entire lot richer. One by one, they return to the set and soundstage, exchanging barely awkward hugs (welcome to the Covid period) and sharing recollections.

Directed and produced by “The Late Late Show with James Corden” producer Ben Winston, who lately did a effective job overseeing the Grammys, the particular makes use of a mishmash of methods to orchestrate and construction this stroll down reminiscence lane, together with an in-person interview with Corden in entrance of an appreciative, socially distanced viewers.

Some of these touches play higher than others, with maybe the finest being snippets during which the stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — have interaction in desk reads of previous episodes, intercut with snippets of the originals. It’s the closest to a scripted “Friends” reunion we’re apt to get, and interesting to look at how seamlessly they seem to slip again into these roles, 17 years later.

Other highlights embody a taped piece during which producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane talk about casting the collection — and all the serendipity that went into bringing these six actors collectively — and interviews with followers round the world, discussing what the present meant to them.

“We didn’t want stars,” Crane remembers throughout the dialogue about the casting course of. Instead, “Friends” made its gamers into stars, leaving them in a very completely different place after they signed off a decade after it started.

At the identical time, “The Reunion” labors in locations to conjure a sense of enjoyable, placing the actors by means of game-show-style trivia checks and enlisting celebrities whose involvement alternately feels arbitrary and pointless.

There are additionally notable oversights, resembling the forged’s all-for-one, one-for-all method when negotiating their contracts in the later seasons — a novel tactic, reflecting the program’s true ensemble nature, the actors’ solidarity, and the monetary juggernaut that “Friends” grew to become for NBC and manufacturing firm Warner Bros. (which, like CNN and HBO Max, is a unit of WarnerMedia).

Then once more, “Friends: The Reunion” displays the current media age as a lot as the mid-1990s interval that birthed the present, when a community sitcom hit of this magnitude was nonetheless attainable. Given the starvation for content material and recognizable titles, what may need been a Museum of Television and Radio retrospective has primarily been blown up into extremely promotable ammunition for the streaming wars.

Taped in April, the particular covers appreciable floor that would encourage numerous “Friends”-esque episode titles, however when all’s mentioned and executed, a few contenders fairly effectively apply: “The One That Celebrates the Show,” “The One That Promotes a Streaming Service,” “The One That Tries A Little Too Hard,” and at its finest, “The One That Gives Fans A Lot of What They Wanted.”

“Friends: The Reunion” premieres May 27 on HBO Max.

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