Earth, a relatively near future, where space flights have become as popular a form of tourism as ocean trips on comfortable cruise ships are nowadays.
One of the main companies carrying out such flights is Judd Galaxy. This company launched a huge starship on a cruise around Saturn, which should last eight months. The spaceship is super comfortable: it has restaurants with gourmet menus, cinemas, nightclubs, discos, gyms and so on. The leisure of passengers is carefully thought out, and all the best is at their service, but this is not surprising: a ticket for a cruise costs very, very serious money.
The captain of the ship, Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie), is everyone’s favorite. He is a space hero who once saved the crew and passengers of the Avenue 3 ship during a fire. Ryan is a tall, very imposing man in an immaculate captain’s suit. With such a captain, the passengers say, you won’t get lost.
From time to time, the captain comes to the dazzling white captain’s bridge, where crew members in dazzling white suits monitor the readings of the instruments and follow the captain’s orders.
The rest of the time, the captain walks around the ship, chatting with passengers, joking, telling funny stories and making people even more comfortable with him.
Herman Judd (Josh Gad), the owner of the Judd Galaxy corporation, flies in the luxurious presidential suite of the ship. This is a plump, terribly moody, infantile and dumb fellow who harasses his energetic closest assistant Iris (Susie Nakamura) and very strange guy Matt Spencer (Zack Woods), who is responsible for contacts with passengers on the ship.
On Earth, the mission control center is run by a somewhat hysterical lady named Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird). Her Judd pisses her off a lot more than Iris does.
Rav’s sister Mia (Jessica St. Clair) is present on the ship with her husband Doug (Kyle Bornheimer): their marriage was falling apart and Rav gave the couple this trip to try and fix the broken cup.
Also among the ship’s passengers is a very determined and assertive lady named Karen Kelly (Rebecca Front) with her very narrow-minded husband Frank (Andy Buckley). But Karen loves Frank and takes care of him in every possible way.
At some point, an incident occurred on the ship, as a result of which one of the astronauts died. At the same time, artificial gravity rebooted on the ship. Due to the loss of gravity, the ship’s course changed, and it turned out that it would be able to return to Earth only after three years.
All the hopes of the passengers are turned to the captain: can’t such a brave space wolf figure out how to get out of the situation? However, the problem is that Ryan Clark is a fake captain. He was hired by Judd to act as parade captain, a favorite of the passengers. The white captain’s bridge is also a fake, and hired actors are sitting behind fake devices.
The real captain is the dead astronaut Joe. It seems that now the spacecraft and its passengers will have very big problems.
“Avenue 5” is a collaboration between HBO and Armando Iannucci, the director and screenwriter who directed the very famous series “Vice President” and “The Thick of Things”, who also directed the sensational film “Death of Stalin”.
The trailer for “Avenue 5” promised a hilarious black-humor comedy, but after the release of the first episodes, there were a lot of disappointed reviews. I was told that the series turned out to be kind of stupid and unfunny. However, at the same time, some people who are professionally involved in cinema, whose opinion I am interested in, the series was very praised.
I, as usual, waited for the release of the full season, after which I watched the series. Let me just say that I really liked it. I love slightly outrageous black humor works of this kind, and here there is something from the traditions of the famous trinity Zucker – Abrahams – Zucker, who shot my favorite film “Airplane”, where a plane full of idiots and freaks is saved by an equally idiotic captain. However, “Airplane” is a parody of the 1957 film Zero Hour, and many scenes from the film were reshot almost one-on-one, only in a parodic vein, and from “Avenue 5”, although there are some references to “Star Trek” and other space serials, but it’s still not a pure parody.
I read in one of the reviews that “Avenue 5” is a mixture of “Star Trek” with “House”. So, nothing like this is even close, despite the fact that the character of Hugh Laurie is quite sarcastic. But it’s well shown in the series that the captain is just an extra who was hired to play the part of the captain. He knows nothing, knows nothing, nothing depends on him, and he began to make some decisions simply out of desperation – because there is no other way out. “We need to sail somehow,” as Viktoria Alexandrovna said in the excellent film “Election Day”, but here everyone needs to fly somehow. Therefore, the fake captain gradually begins to become a real captain, but where to go?!
Hugh Laurie is simply excellent here, and this is never House, a completely different type. He is good at irony, at times very funny falls into hysterics, frankly feuds with the jerk Judd, gains wits from the flight engineer Billy McAvoy (Lenora Crichlow), who very funny pranks the fake captain. When necessary, he can be extremely charming, at the same time he can specifically turn on these rich idiot passengers. Cool role, another one of a whole collection of wonderful roles of this wonderful actor.
By the way, there is also a complete delight for moviegoers: Ryan Clark is a Briton posing as an American. (A British captain would not inspire respect among American passengers.) But when the captain is very close to the lantern, and this happens often here, he spits on the American pronunciation and speaks like a typical British. And when the next character of the series starts yelling: “Is he British?!” – it’s always funny, even when it’s repeated for the fifth time.
And the thrill for moviegoers is that when Hugh Laurie auditioned for the part of House, he knew the producers wanted an American doctor and wouldn’t even consider a Brit for the role. Hugh Laurie at that moment was in very difficult conditions on the set of another picture, and he simply recorded a video with the text of Dr. House purely for the sake of formality, and Laurie, who perfectly imitates a wide variety of pronunciations, pretended to be an American. The producers, having watched the video, were completely delighted and called Hugh Laurie to an audition – of course, in the States they had no idea who Hugh Laurie was at all. I don’t know when they finally found out that it was British, but the fact itself is important: the role of Dr. House was played by Hugh Laurie, and hardly anyone else could do it with such brilliance.
(There’s also a chic moment in House M.D. itself when House calls a person after midnight and, in order to somehow justify the late call, switches to his native British pronunciation and says that he is calling from London.)
I really liked Josh Gad as Herman Judd. He is terribly similar to the pretty bonkers Philip Kirkorov, and the similarity once again emphasizes the fact that Josh has both the timbre of his voice and intonations are really very, very similar to Kirkorov’s.
Herman Judd in the series is a complete jerk, but the jerk is not evil, but very, very funny. The character, I would even say, is positive and somehow very touching in his infantilism. In addition, he terribly values the collection of natural skulls of all four Beatles, which Bagel and I, as inveterate Beatles, really appreciated.
Well, one more of the main characters is a completely psychedelic Matt Spencer in some downright space-flying performance by Zach Woods. There and purely scripted Matt is mind-blowing, and it is played brilliantly.
Among the rest of the characters is the very cool flight engineer Billy, played by Lenora Crichlow. She’s one of the few who knows what’s going on at all, she understands how little chance they have of coming back with this fake team and the situation they’re in, she trains Ryan with all her might and tries to stand up to Judd the jerk. All this is done quite ironically, and this character also lets out a lot of funny phrases.
Of the passengers – the frantic Karen Kelly performed by Rebecca Front is beautiful (Captain Ryan quickly realized that she needed to be attracted to his side and Karen should be made the manager of passenger relations), her completely idiotic husband is charming, who faces a terrible death several times in the first season, Well, the constantly swearing couple Mia and Doug are also very, very good.
The series is really crazy, so there will also be a sewer break into space, after which the spaceship will fly surrounded by an orbital stream of shit, which Judd will think of highlighting with fireworks, as a result of which the face of the Pope will appear on the ring of shit (Bublik and I applauded for about ten minutes), some of the passengers, on their own initiative, will accept instant death in a vacuum, and their frozen body parts will merrily fly around the ship, and most importantly, the leadership somehow needs to decide how to destroy about five hundred passengers so that the rest can quickly return to Earth. I hope I have properly interested you.
Why such a low rating, what claims are made to the series? I carefully read the various reviews, from which I made the following. First, as reviewers say, there is no one to empathize with. Which I personally think is complete nonsense. I had a lot of empathy for the captain and the flight engineer, Billy, and even for idiot Judd, I had a lot of empathy too. Apparently, because I’m just such a person – empathetic.
Secondly, reviewers say, there is no good humor here. Well, I don’t know, it’s all very tasty, of course. But, in my opinion, there is more than enough humor here: the captain generally lights up just like that, Billy also jokes quite well, and the only person who jokes very, very stupidly is a stand-up comedian (played by Himesh Patel from Yesterday), invited to entertain passengers, and this is also funny.
In general, I really liked it, I watched the first season with great pleasure. And I’m waiting for the second season – rating by rating, and the HBO channel ordered the second season. So the internal ratings of the channel, apparently, are not so low. Well, great, we are waiting. There is a piquant moment in the first season: Captain Ryan cannot return to Earth, his face and hands are needed for docking with a rescue ship. And Bublik and I will worry about him.
Don’t watch this show, it makes no sense. However, the rating on IMDB is really very low. You probably won’t like it. No, Bagel and I are by no means carriers of secret knowledge. But we just love such a pull, we have the right. Who will forbid us, who?!
Avenue 5 movie meaning
Director: Armando Iannucci Cast: Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, Zach Woods, Rebecca Front, Susie Nakamura, Lenora Crichlow, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Andy Buckley, Jessica St. Claire, Kyle Bornheimer
Series, USA, 2020, 40 min. black humor tragicomedy, 9 episodes