After binge-watching seasons of dark and disturbing fare, it’s time for something short and fun. Sure, Netflix’s third season of Stranger Things and the first season of Amazon’s The Boys were entertaining, but do you ever want to watch something enjoyable that isn’t a long-term commitment? Netflix comes to the rescue with the silliest half-hour called Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein.
It’s a fake documentary that brings us cringe-worthy acting and underdone production values. David Harbour of Stranger Things plays himself. Coming from a long line of actors, he wants to understand his father, also Harbour. It seems that father Harbour, who had a career in the theater, started producing plays for TV. Harbour found video footage of a production of Frankenstein. This documentary gives us current Harbour discovering more about that disastrous production and his father. Boy, does this make for a weird and wacky mockumentary.
The real fun in this production is watching the footage of the overwrought TV play of “Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein.” The flat and faded look of a video production from the 1970s works well. We learn through interviews that the senior Harbour resented his younger co-star, a pop star trying to establish an acting career. Unfortunately, in this TV play, the acting is either vapid or bombastic. There’s no in-between.
Just as in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the script for this short comedy focuses on the ego of the actor. Harbour has fun playing the fictionalized version of his father, an actor who breaks into monologuing whether the script requires it or not. Alex Ozerov plays Joey Vallejo, a new actor overwhelmed by the confusion that Harbour brings to the play. Kate Berlant is hilarious as the leading lady who stiffly overacts.
The short running time of Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein keeps the jokes fresh, as this kind of humor is hard to sustain. For those who enjoy watching a satire of bad television and have sat through cheaply-produced television plays during the period represented, the comedy comes through. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes. It might feel too weird and, yes, it is weird, but it’s the kind of weird we can sit back and enjoy, especially these days when our world feels dark and grim. Laughing for 32 minutes helps.