That Warner Bros. Television commissioned by the video service HBO Max is preparing a special edition of “Friends” with the participation of the legendary six “friends” and the creators of the original series, it was officially announced in November 2019. There were rumors among the fans that it would be almost a continuation of the series like “Friends, seventeen years later”, however, the fans were announced that this would be the only full-length issue, where, of course, there would be no continuation, but simply the actors will meet all together in the usual surroundings and will remember how those ten years passed when they starred in probably the most popular and most iconic series in the world.
Filming was scheduled to begin in March 2020 in Los Angeles, California at Pavilion 24 (called the “Friends Pavilion”), where nine seasons of the series were filmed. (The first season was filmed elsewhere.) The date was not chosen by chance – the special was planned to be shown on May 27, 2020, when all seasons of Friends were launched on the HBO Max platform for viewing. However, due to covid, filming was postponed to August 2020, and then completely to April 2021.
And finally, on May 27, 2021, this special issue was shown by the HBO Max service (in United States it can be viewed on the Amediateka website).
Structurally, this release consists of several parts. First, the six “friends” – actors Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer – meet in the 24th pavilion in the meticulously recreated scenery of Monica and Rachel’s apartment.
After that, they move to the lawn with the famous sofa in front of the fountain from the series’ signature intro. The actors sit on this couch and answer questions from the host, James Corden. Spectators are sitting in the hall in the amphitheater, there will also be several characters from the series.
Further, the action will take place here and there – then in the scenery of the apartment, where the six actors will exchange various memories, accompanied by flashbacks from the series, then on the couch, answering questions from the presenter.
Also, some attention will be paid to the stories of the creators of the series Kevin Bright, David Crane and Martha Kauffman (Crane and Kauffman were also screenwriters, and the script of “Friends” is based on their own life in New York), stories of other participants in the series and statements of famous people, fans series. Well, also several people from different countries will tell you what this series was for them: how it saved during all sorts of troubles in life, helped to get out of depression, accept yourself as you are, and so on.
David Schwimmer will force the rest of the cast to play a quiz game – much like the famous quiz show from the series, after which Monica and Rachel lost their apartment. They all read the script for several famous scenes, there will be many interesting guests in the studio, there will also be a very short fashion show with iconic costumes from the series.
Interestingly, I myself was honored to watch “Friends” only four years after the series ended – in 2008. Then my wife and I flew to the Maldives for two weeks on vacation and took this series with us. We watched five or six episodes every evening in the evening, watched a little less than half during the rest, and then, when we returned to Moscow, gradually watched to the end. Moreover, my wife already watched this series in its entirety, but she reviewed it with me with pleasure. And after that, she later revised it more than once. By the way, I would also review it with great pleasure in its entirety, but alas, I don’t have time for this, I constantly need to watch something new for reviews.
After the release of this special issue, most of the reviews were positive, but there were also quite negative reviews, the authors of which criticized the release format and individual episodes: some said that there were too many guests and it was clearly not necessary to invite any celebrities there (and indeed, who cares, what David Beckham thinks about “Friends”), others claimed that there were very few guests, they needed more, others said that the guests were not really allowed to tell anything, the fourth – that the actors were not really allowed to tell anything. In general, there was also enough criticism.
Both my wife and I enjoyed it very much. We, in fact, did not expect anything from this action. It is clear that all the actors will be gathered in one room and they will remember how it was all filmed, it is clear that they will be asked some questions, of course – some guests will also be invited to tell something about the series, as involved so and not involved in the “Friends”. This is exactly what happened here, and what did you critics expect?
They were collected, they shared various memories, including some things that I didn’t know, and I read and watched a lot about the creation of this series, the guests were mostly quite in the subject, and it’s good that each of them was given not so much time (otherwise the rest would not have been able to participate), those episodes in which different people (and not only celebrities) talked about what this series meant in their lives – they were touching and quite important.
Here is the section with the host James Corden seemed to me somehow a little strained. Corden is an excellent presenter and showman, I love his show very much, but here, in my opinion (and not only mine), he somehow didn’t fit into the format. Moreover, Corden usually behaves very relaxedly in communication with other people, but here this was somehow not observed. Probably, Jimmy Fallon as the host would be more organic, but it is clear that we will not be able to verify this.
By the way, watching this special issue and remembering the series, I understand that in modern America a similar series in such a format and with such jokes simply could not come out, because its creators would immediately be subjected first to public flogging in a bunch of media, and then would be buried at all.
Why? Yes, because the series does not meet the standards of the so-called “new ethics” – not a single gram! The six friends are all white, none black, none Hispanic, and none Asian. It’s no good anymore, right? Joey, with his overtly masculine and over-the-top jokes about women, he would have been kicked out of the show after the first joke in the episode “There are as many women in the world as there are ice creams, you just need to get a spoon.”
Also, both Joey and Chandler in the series are repeatedly terrified of being mistaken for gays. And what kind of disgrace is this? How can they be afraid of this? They should be proud if they are suddenly mistaken for gays! And if at the same time they are still not of such an advanced sexual orientation, then they should simply modestly answer: “It would be an honor, but alas – no: we have not been honored yet, but we are carefully working on it.”
In general, of course, it would be interesting if the actors themselves and the creators of the series discussed this, but it is clear that no one will touch on this topic, and if they did, then nothing but “things were different then, but now we would , of course, they would not allow themselves anything like that. And you can’t argue with that: the times were completely different.
But, however, I have already been carried away somewhere to the side, and it’s time to wrap up. As you can see, I really liked it. I was expecting something like this, I got exactly what I wanted. Sweet, nostalgic, often very touching. No, Bublik and I didn’t shed a tear, but Bublik was close to it, although he will argue that nothing like this happened. There was, there was, I affirm this responsibly, and I am a very responsible person!
Friends: The Reunion movie review
Director: Ben Winston Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Reese Witherspoon, Cara Delevingne, Tom Selleck, Kit Harington
Comedy, USA, 2021, 104 min.