Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) is an elderly actor. Once he was a superstar and a very wealthy man, but, alas, this is a long time ago: when you can no longer play cool machos, and the producers don’t see you in other roles, you have to think about how else to earn a living. Sandy came up with: he created a small “Sandy Kominsky Acting School”, in which he teaches young guys acting techniques and helps them to open up on stage.
It brings very little money, and since Sandy was extremely frivolous about money during his glory days, he now lives in a small apartment, which is located in the same building where Kominsky teaches.
Sandy is very friendly with her agent Norman (Alan Arkin) – an ironic and slightly grouchy old man. Forty-seven years ago, Sandy introduced Norman to his current wife, Eileen (Susan Sullivan). Eileen is seriously ill, and Sandy still can’t bring herself to visit her, but Kominsky’s daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker), who helps her father with his acting studio, persuades Sandy to overpower herself and go to Norman and Eileen’s house.
After Eileen’s death, Sandy and Norman become even closer. Norman was actually left alone: he and Eileen have a daughter, Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein), but she is a complete drug addict and does not get out of hospitals. Sandy has a little fling with his student Lisa (Nancy Travis), who is not much younger than he is, but at his age, Kominsky is far more concerned about the test results and what Dr. Wexler (Danny DeVito) has to say.
Chuck Lorre is the creator of the famous TV series Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. Both of these shows are about young people, and I was very interested to see what Lorrie did with a show where one main character, Sandy, is in her seventies and the other main character, Norman, is in her eighties.
I will say right away that the series (or rather, the mini-series) turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Moreover, despite the seemingly sad theme – old age, illness, death – it is quite optimistic, romantic, bright and ironic. There is a lot of humor here, the main characters’ picks among themselves and their picks with other characters are very funny, and it looks just fine.
Michael Douglas, whose acting work I always really like, is very good here. A few years ago, Michael suffered a serious illness (cancer of the larynx), but he coped with it and continues to successfully act in films. (One of his most prominent roles in recent years was in Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, where Michael played musician and showman Vladzi Valentino Liberace.)
Sandy Kominsky is a very curious character. He went through fire and copper pipes, and now he is going through water: quietly drifting, yearning for the times when he was the king of this world. In ordinary life, he also acts a little – this is typical of former actors – but, by the way, it does not look completely artificial with him.
Sandy is quite sincerely passionate about his acting studio: he is interested in the young people who work there, he likes to watch how they gradually develop their acting skills.
Kominsky has some of the selfishness and a certain narcissism that superstars almost always develop, but he is able to empathize with Norman and sympathize with him. Moreover, many of Norman’s problems are well known to Kominsky himself.
I remember Alan Arkin from a very nice film “Real Boys”, where he played in the company of Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Arkin was a little lost there against their background, and his character, purely scripturally, was noticeably less active.
Here Alan Arkin is simply wonderful! Despite the fact that he seems to have a supporting role, Norman is absolutely magnificent! And he outplayed Michael, in my opinion, although Michael is also very good.
They have such wonderful dialogues that many episodes want to be reviewed over and over again. In general, I want to watch this series again in a short time in its entirety: on the second viewing, you catch a lot of absolutely wonderful nuances that you don’t notice on the first viewing. Well, again, when you look for the second time and already know these characters well, some dialogues play with completely new colors.
Danny DeVito here, unfortunately, appears only in a couple of small episodes, but his Dr. Wexler is something with something! Danny probably starred here out of respect for Michael Douglas: they are old friends from their youth. At one time they had a hooligan inseparable trinity – Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner – and they starred in three films with this company: the wonderful “Romancing the Stone” and its sequel, as well as in the film “The War of the Roses”.
A wonderful mini-series, I’m very glad that I did not miss it. Well, yes, two old men go back and forth and chat about this and that. Well, yes, both old men are sometimes specific assholes. But they are absolutely gorgeous assholes, trust me.
At the Golden Globe – 2019, this series received the main prize in the nomination “Best Series (Comedy or Musical)”. His opponents were “Barry” (did not watch, but I’m going to), “Just kidding” (I watched, it didn’t go at all), “In a Good Place” (I’m going to watch) and “The Amazing Mrs. Maisel”. And while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a great show, I can’t say that The Kominsky Method’s victory was unfair. By the way, Michael Douglas won there in the nomination “Best Actor on TV”, but Alan Arkin did not win in the nomination “Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series” – he lost to Ben Whishaw from the series “Extremely English Scandal”.
The Kominsky Method
Director: Chuck Lorre Cast: Alan Arkin, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Sarah Baker, Nancy Travis, Jenna Ling, Casey Thomas Brown, Ashley LaTrop, Graham Rogers, Melissa Tang, Susan Sullivan, Lisa Edelstein
Series, USA, 2018, 30 min.