The highly-anticipated Friends reunion has been branded ‘bloated’ and jammed with ‘tiresome filler’ by critics in early TV reviews.
And James Corden has been widely panned for his interview with the show’s stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry, with one slamming his ‘banal’ questions.
The HBO Max special, which airs this Thursday, sees the cast return to the famous set where they filmed the series over 10 years.
‘Banal’: Critics have slammed James Corden’s (L) interview of the Friends cast during the reunion special, which is set to air on HBO Max on Thursday
They received a reported $2.5M appearance fee for the TV special.
Entertainment Weekly gave it a grade B noting there were ‘flashes of reunion magic’ during the show, but added: ‘Unfortunately, the bloated, 104-minute (!) special sandwiches these flashes of reunion magic between a lot of silly, tiresome filler.
‘Corden’s interview is banal, though he manages to unearth one (obviously thoroughly vetted in advance) revelation about two of the stars.’
The Hollywood Reporter noted the 42-year-old Late Late Show host was only able to draw out ‘superficial conversations’ from the cast which resulted in ‘glibness’ rather than ‘introspection.’
EW gave it a grade B noting there were ‘flashes of reunion magic’ during the show, but added: ‘Unfortunately, the bloated, 104-minute special sandwiches these flashes of reunion magic between a lot of silly, tiresome filler’
THR noted the 42-year-old Late Late Show host (L) was only able to draw out ‘superficial conversations’ from the cast which resulted in ‘glibness’ rather than ‘introspection’
When an audience member asked what the actors disliked about making the show, Corden jokingly chided: ‘Way to keep it positive!’
Deadline claims the reunion will satisfy ‘hardcore’ fans only, noting: ‘If you don’t have a standing order at Central Perk, you’ll probably want to skip the much-hyped, almost two-hour-long shindig that is way more filler than killer, to put it kindly.’
The New York Times called Corden’s interview ‘peripheral’ in the ‘sweet, shaggy special’ but it gets ‘better when it gets out of the cast’s way and shows us what drew us to them, and them to each other.’
‘There’s plenty you won’t hear about,’ NYT critic James Poniewozik wrote.
‘The contentious contract negotiations; criticisms of the show for casting mainly white actors; personal or health issues. When an audience member asks what the actors disliked about making the show, Corden jokingly chides, “Way to keep it positive!”‘
‘It felt like every night like I was going to die if they didn’t laugh’: Variety reported Matthew Perry (2-L) – whose addiction struggles impacted his time on the show – brought a ‘palpable unease’ to the special
James likely got the gig thanks to the Friends: The Reunion director Ben Winston, who also happens to helm CBS’ Late Late Show With James Corden.
Variety said the ‘Corden weirdness eventually devolves into a fashion show that ‘can only describe as “unhinged.”‘
‘The live-audience component is ostensibly why HBO Max held off on producing the special earlier,’ Variety critic Caroline Framke wrote.
‘And yet throughout the reunion’s impressive run time of over an hour and a half, it also proves to be the least essential.’
Framke said Matthew Perry – whose addiction struggles impacted his time on the show – brought a ‘palpable unease’ to the special.
‘When his castmates talk about staying in touch with each other, he cracks a joke about how he doesn’t hear “from anyone” so dryly that it’s impossible to tell if it’s actually a joke,’ Variety reported.
‘Later, as the rest of the cast laughs about the takes they messed up and how the audience reacted, Perry remembers how he felt every night “like I was going to die if they didn’t laugh,” and acknowledges that “it wasn’t healthy, for sure.”‘