Documentary Now! (TV Series 2015– ) Poster

(2015– )

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Brilliant! Haven't laughed that hard in a long time
troybutcher7727 August 2015
Aktham Tashtoush who left a bad review below must not have read up on what this is about. To fully appreciate the brilliant comedy in Documentary Now, you need to watch at least part of (or read about) Grey Gardens for the 1st episode, and then watch an episode of VICE on Youtube to fully appreciate the 2nd episode. Bill & Fred have obviously watched and researched the original characters and have portrayed and mocked what is so funny about original shows. If you like morbid comedy, then this delivers.

Bill & Fred are hilarious together, and my only complaint is that there is only going to be 6 episodes it appears.
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Great work
mylifeisbigcomedy21 August 2015
I just watched the new mockumentary show with my favorite comedians and I satisfied with what I saw there.

First episode that parodies Grey Gardens makes me laugh really hard and the biggest plus of the show is that it's seems very attractive and naturally. I mean, if you stop thinking that it's a parody on few minutes then you can truly believe that it's a real film.

Work of writers, acting of actors and design of clothes that they were wearing, everything is awesome. I want to mention Bill Hader because, how I think, he's made an excellent work on his role. Lil' Vevie is something I really scared of. And this can mean that parody became to something more.

Second episode was little strained but still have a lot of funny moments.

I can call myself a big fan of these guys but objectively Documentary Now! is one of the best show in last 5 years.
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Good stuff
OrangieTooDope12 April 2019
I never saw any of the documentaries that they spoof but every episode was still funny to me.
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Unusual sense of humour
JeromeArlettaz8 September 2015
I love this sense of humour based on characters having a great consideration for themselves, looking ridiculous from the viewer's perspective, with a pinch of cruelty and tons of nonsense. In short: the character doesn't know he's in a comedy. It isn't common in US comedy, more frequent in GB. This sense of humour requires a perfect execution in the filming and acting and I think that this series has brilliantly achieved it. I'm not an easy laugher and I'm usually the guy with the poker face in the cinema when everyone is exulting. But watching this show, I think I've disturbed my neighbours with my unpracticed heavy laugh. I particularly appreciate the introductions.
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Some of the Smartest, Funniest Writing in Years
It baffles me that a show this funny can remain so underground, with less than a "cult classic" following. However I understand why many have looked over this show. The concept is not only very "out there" but the writing is very smart. In a similar way that the UK version of "The Office" is often overlooked by US fans for being "too smart", this show is closer to dry, British humor than classic American humor. But, through and through, this show is brilliant. The attention to detail is astounding to the point where the original documentaries look worse than their versions. Mulany, Meyers, Hader and Armisen pour so much passion into this show. This is not a cash grab, it's not a money maker, it's a passion project shared by 4 brilliant comedians and that can be seen in every episode. Please support this show, brilliant direction, writing and acting such as this should be rewarded and unfortunately this show is being overlooked.
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Welcome to Documentary Now
cmomman198829 October 2018
Pros: Fav episodes are "The Eye Don't Lie" (a rare spoof of Errol Morris) and the two-parter "Mr. Runner Up" where Bill does his great take on Bill Evans; you can tell that they love their docs and so do I. Cons: :/
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A great addition to the IFC catalog.
alexandergaither105 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
*NOTE*: This review is based squarely on the first episode: "Sandy Passage".

In my opinion, IFC has produced some of the best alternative comedy in the past decade. From Portlandia to Comedy Bang Bang!, they've raised the stakes for what alt comedy should/could be.

Imagine to my surprise when several months ago, while watching the premiere of The Spoils of Babylon, I saw a promo for a new series called Documentary Now! Starring alt comedy darlings Bill Hader and Fred Armisan, produced by Seth Myers and Lorne Micheals, and presented by Helen Friggin' Mirren! My expectations rose to kilimanjaric levels after seeing it.

Now, having seen the first installment, I feel as if I have a firm grasp on this series and can review it in full. So, here we go.

"Sandy Passage". A "parody" (using that term loosely) of the 1975 classic about a two- man film crew who set their sights on chronicling a mother-daughter pair of socialites living in a ramshackle estate. The episode essentially plays the film beat-by-beat with Armisen being the mother and Hader being the daughter.

It's all very funny, satisfying, and even a bit poignant, but the real kicker comes at the very end, when it is revealed that the mother and daughter are murderers; both responsible for the "disappearances" of their former boyfriends and grocery boys. The ending genuinely scarred me, and as someone who often watches horror movies, that's saying something. Though the twist does feel a bit jarring after having sat through something so slow.

Overall, "Sandy Passage" is a surprisingly nice little tribute a trailblazer of the documentary industry, and a nice entrance into the world of Documentary Now! I will definitely be watching further episodes.

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Some episodes better than others, but overall fun
kcarrell-953909 June 2019
My family and I really enjoyed this series. It's hard at times to remember these are Mockumentaries, because the acting, writing and stylized editing make it seem like you are watching an actual documentary.
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Pure Genius
meghannpolen7 April 2019
High quality, hilarious, and spot-on in matching the tone/appearance of the documentaries they are paying homage to. Deserves to win all the Emmys.
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Good but uneven.
tinafey-9319429 June 2018
Weirdly enough, you'll probably like episodes based on how much you like the documentary they are spoofing in it. If you don't care about the original doc, you just won't be invested in the jokes. But the War Room episode is absolute genius, Hader has never been better. Armisen is a talented, genius creep. Still a creep tho!
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Huge love and respect for Fred, Bill and Seth but the show is just a waste of slots on the channel and i recommend no one to try watching it for the sake of comedy ..
Aktham_Tashtush21 August 2015
OMG this is a torture !!! I really had such high hopes for this as i love this old (old as i can remember) crew of Saturday Night Live, "Bill Hader", "Fred Armisen" and being co-wrote by Seth Meyers ... and the first scene where Helen Mirren introduces the "movie" it was all unnecessary and loose,

The script is not really funny, well at least for people who usually get even the smallest gesture of comedy .. even the moves and face expressions of "Bill Hader" and "Fred Armisen" which used to be hilarious, here were not that engaging or effective !!!

Anyway, this is a pilot and the final scene was well somehow weird and i don't know !!! it's like asking .. where are they going next !! like would it be a semi-horror series now !!

Independent Film Channel or the so called IFC would probably lose nothing from distributing this .. i mean never watched anything on it ,, hell first time i'v heard of it ... but they gotta try harder of picking up shows not only based on names (which i hugely respect and love).

So overall,, the show is just a waste of slots on the channel and i recommend no one to try watching for the sake of comedy cuz you'll kinda hate yourself for spending that half hour on literally nothing ..
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Very clichéd writing
UNOhwen16 April 2016
Lorne Michaels WAS very talented - over 40 YEARS ago, when he started Saturday Night Live.

Back then, with the original (and still, THE best) Not Ready For Prime-Time Payers (Gilda, Dan, John, Garret, Jane, Lorraine, and - Chevy. By the way; Bill Murray joined AFTER Chevy left), it was biting the hands (the network, et al.) and they DID take chances.

But, since they left Mr. .Michaels has done the same old, same old for so long, it's as if he's a 'puppet,' and everything is 'pre-made.'

There's no more daring humour, no jokes that dare cross the line. It's all safe pablum.

So, seeing his name as Exec. Producer is no surprise - to me. It's like that Simon 'LeGree' Cowell, and all his 'Star Search' rip off series, where the winner DOES get a contract, but, it's more like indentured servitude; they (the winner) is forced to crank garbage out for (in this case, Lorne Michaels) for eternity. They're forced to do his pre-made yuk-fest' whether-or-not they want to.

Analogy; just like a kid who likes Chef Boyardee ravioli might grow up and still find - as they've grown to adulthood, this canned thing to be their 'favourite,' in all its sugar-drenched, chemically- tasting awfulness, it also goes with humour. As there are people who laughed at 'chicken crossing the road' -type humour when they were little, and STILL do years - perhaps decades later.

There are a lot of people who have moved past this.

For the people who still think SNL humour that they remember from their young adult-hood/college years as 'funny,' they will love this.

For what these are - little 'take-offs' of well-known/familiar films, told in a style that almost has a built in 'pause' for the audiences guffaws, it's fine.

But, if you're sense of humour is beyond this stage, these (so far only) 6(I hope that's all) episodes encompass 'ha-ha' versions of Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, and several other well-known documentaries.

The thing is, the original stories these 'parodies' are meant to 'gently nudge' (yawn), are so well- known, and has already had parodies, jokes, and what-not made, that it's pointless.

The humour is plain obvious, i.e., in 'Sandy Passage' (Grey Gardens), we start with the old 'Uncle Mitly' vaudeville gag; men in drag. Yes, it can be funny, but, just drag, JUST for the FACT of having someone in drag ISN'T funny.

The characters in Sandy Passage - 'big' and 'little Viv' are, again - very obvious caricatures, with absolutely nothing new.

The real people, 'big' and 'little Edie' were so much larger-than-life to begin with, they've had performers of every calibre - from small clubs, and gay bars, to big venue shows - do send-ups of them.

The take on Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line, one knows going in that they're going to make the southern … everyone - incredibly dumb (which is OK by me), so dumb, that even with the 'innocent' (but really guilty) party doing/saying everything BUT 'I'm guilty,' they STILL try to brush it off as him being a 'cut-up,' and the (truly) innocent schlub is 'of course' (according to them) guilty (primarily because he ISN'T a southerner).

This is sophomoric humour at best, and if that makes you laugh, then perfect for you.

Otherwise, skip it.
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Cleverly conceived idea but it can be hit or miss
Okonh0wp16 October 2016
Documentaries are generally a pretty esoteric cinematic experience and co-creator Fred Armisen's comedy is also pretty esoteric. As a result putting those together is going to lead to something that's not easy to appreciate or particularly funny every time out of the gate.

While the premise's novelty-- re-imagining popular documentaries with a comic bent -- was enough to get it through the first season, the show usually sinks or swims based on how funny the episode is.

With the exception of Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Morgan Spurlock, or Werner Herzog, very few documentaries have ever surfaced to the national consciousness. As a result, many viewers (including myself) are not going to go to know of the original source either, so the comedy often has to stand on its own in a way that most direct parodies don't. I'm not sure if this airs on the IFC TV channel, but the website has a featurette airing the two versions side-by-side which is certainly helpful.

"The Town, A Gangster, a Festival" approaches the brilliance of Christopher Guest's films (what I'm sure is an influence on these guys) in terms of attention to detail. A whole world is colored in by oodles and oodles of funny characters. This should cater to the wheelhouse of a writing staff-- all SNL alumni (if I'm not mistaken) where creating characters who can display a memorable quirk within a minute or two of screen time is a prerequisite.

Without the advantage of the large ensemble format, the show faces a harder challenge with generally only two people front and center. The show can sometimes work brilliance here but some episodes have also fallen flat. Among the most brilliant entries are "Kunuk Now" and "Globesman" as both are hilarious based on stand-alone comic characters and broad reference(the primitive Eskimo in the former, the 1950s image of masculinity and the corporate salesman in the latter) rather than a specific cinematic style. "Kunuk Now" tells the story of a kooky producer who jumps production in Alaska and an intellectually-challenged Eskimo who single-handedly creates all our modern ideas of cinematography. "Globesman" takes the squeaky clean image of the 1950's and turns it into a portrait of sheer obnoxiousness.

Among the other episodes that work somewhat well, "The Blue Jean Committee" is an exaggerated character portrait of two men whose lives have gone in opposite directions since fame. It distinguishes itself by being perhaps the only episode in the series with sentimental value (the final hug between the two tugged at my heart strings at least). Armisen is a music obsessive and his effort falls flat in the similarly themed second season episode "Test Pattern" which feels derivative: It mines similar nuances of "Blue Jean Committee" in mining similar nuances of concert culture without giving us a reason to care.

"Dronez" also roughly works without any source material as it provides a never-ending supply of dumb people and juxtaposes them with an incredibly dangerous situation.

Others like "Juan Likes Rice and Beans" and "The War Room" are middling: They work based on the hyper-specific which will vary. In the case of the former, I saw "Jiro Likes Sushi" which helped me enjoy it at a fuller level.

The rest of the episodes, including the series premiere, fall painfully flat based on hyper-specificity.

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prophetagnostic16 June 2019
A deflated balloon has more edge. I honestly feel sorry for Mulaney and Hader.
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IDEA for Owen Wilson
TheAlShow30 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Wow" is the film title, but he never actually says WOW... instead the audience is because owen wilson is busy blowing our minds.
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