I chose to give this Netflix interactive special a fudging good review.
I met Ellie Kemper at a book signing of her book “My Squirrel Days,” and I told her she was delightful on “The Office.” She was so nice that I’ve decided to check out her Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which just ran its course last year. Now, she’s back with an interactive special called “Kimmy vs. The Reverend,” and fans are required to chose the directions the story will take.
If you make the wrong choice, you get a do-over, and go back to the other option. Even the special has a fun time teasing us. I remember Siskel & Ebert panning the 1995 interactive movie “Mr. Payback” for its crass humor and misunderstanding of being a movie, and Roger Ebert saying: “A movie acts on you. You don’t want to interact with it, you want it to act on you.” But “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” continues its colorful and goofy legacy, and it’s refreshing to see the old gang back together.
For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it focused on how Kimmy Schmidt (Kemper) escaped the manipulations of the deranged Reverend Richard Wayne (Jon Hamm), who kept her and the other girls (Mole Women) in a bunker for 15 years. She manages to survive the new generation, while experiencing new things, and befriending the flamboyantly gay actor Titus (Titus Burgess), her streetwise landlady Lilian (Carol Kane), and the socialite Jacqueline (Jane Krawkowski). And in this special, Kimmy is engaged to a handsome British prince (Daniel Radcliffe), and finds a library book that may have belonged to another Mole Woman. Maybe Mole Women.
The most exhausting subplot in the movie is when Jacqueline has to cover for Titus, while he’s out of town helping Kimmy find the missing girl or girls. He’s preparing to shoot a movie, and Jacquline has to try to stall filmmakers before they find out about his absence.
Kemper is a fun, spontaneous actress, and she continues to put a lot of her energy into Kimmy, who also reveals herself as a smart woman. Burgess is hilarious with his verbal gimmicks and dispositions. Krakowski is the right actress to play Jacqueline with her fashion and attitude. And Kane delivers the goods as Lilian. And you also get some guest appearances from the likes of Jack McBrayer, Fred Armisen, Josh Groban, and Johnny Knoxville.
Both the show (created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) and special can be weird, silly, and over the top, but they’re also funny, good-natured, and open-minded. It continues to allow a victimized woman to expand her horizons and look on the bright side of life. And it also allows her to have the courage to stand up to her captor. I’ve seen movies about dumb women fighting for themselves (like the dreadful comedy “The Other Woman”), but Kimmy is not dumb. She’s adorable and optimistic.
And back to the colorful thing, I’m talking about how bright they both look. Practically everything is colorful-the decor, the clothes, the lighting, and objects. Ergo, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” looks positive, and we could sure use some positive energy during this COVID-19 crisis. And while, the interactivity gets a little time-consuming with how the choices play out, you’re still eager to know what happens in each choice.
Available on Netflix