The Pentaverate premieres Friday, May 6 on Netflix.
’90s star Mike Myers is back on his first live comedy show since 2008’s The Love Guru. Landing on Netflix with The Pentaverate – A separate series based on an abridged joke in Myers’ So I Married an Ax Murderer from 1993 – The undercover performer often returned multiple roles – about eight To be precise, with the other side characters scattered here and there. It’s a grueling effort that doesn’t produce enough laughs to justify massive amounts of makeup or prosthetics. There are a few laughable running gags, and there’s a gentle heart at the center of vulgarity, but this particular brand unfortunately feels well past its heyday.
First, there are some seeds that could have made for a decent comeback movie for Myers, but the option to extend this tale into a series works against it. Even in six episodes, The Pentaverate quickly runs out of gas as massive hoops jump in order to conjure up a plot involving this charitable secret society. It’s not an hour long, but there isn’t enough here to fill in the time, and there are many moments when you can feel scratch and scratch Something Happen or occur.
There’s a bunch of talented comedians here too — like Keegan-Michael Key, Ken Jeong and Jennifer Saunders — but they’re not enough to pull this project out of the depths of dullness. There’s an objective issue in time managed here, but nothing has been done before and the adventure is so full of adventure that it all ends up working against the series’ attempt to send a message about empathy and inclusion.
Austin Powers (Dr. Eiffel et al.), Myers’ most famous non-partner character, also took a fair amount of time in the makeup chair, so this is a world he feels comfortable with. Other attempts at this—like The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru—didn’t produce the same magic, so despite Austin Powers’ success, this isn’t a surefire formula for Myers. And some of the characters Myers plays here blend in easily with one another and aren’t distinct enough to warrant a transformation.
Furthermore, due to the production efforts required to portray him in all of these parts, the comedic timing is a bit off. Some of these jokes might fly better at a higher speed, but, a) this isn’t Myers’ bag, and b) the shooting manipulation makes most exchanges noticeably heavy. Add to that a substandard text and you will get a huge number of meaningless jokes. Some are reheated hack pieces that reference Donald Rumsfeld and the Eyes Wide Shut while others try to play up more modern things by referencing Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina candle or QAnon. None of that works well.
Myers plays five members of the exclusive and elusive Pentaverate game – a dead member and four remaining: British Lord Lord Lordington, Rupert Murdoch y Bruce Baldwin, Rasputin-y Mishu, and fact Band manager Chip Gordon – as well as the tale’s hero, and the street’s top reporter Ken Scarborough. With Ken The Pentaverate finds its sweetness, as he is not only polite and established Canadian, but his character is being open minded and kind.
Breaking into the mad world of scoundrels, Kane is a likable guy and a reflection of Myers’ fondness for the “dads” of Cannock’s cute local TV news. (Stick after the last episode for a real example of this). While Pentaverate fails in many ways, Kane acting as the main hero is one of the few ideas we get to feel here. What began when Kane tried to get his job back (for CACA News), by breaking a big story and exposing this ancient cult of attractors, transitions into an aimless relationship that involves a hostile takeover of the world.
Not to completely ignore the recovery stuff, there are some funny sequences. Again, they’ll work better up close, in a tighter format, with no minor gaps in between. Of course, one of these funny parts only works because this is a series, because it includes Jeremy Irons’ introductory voice to each episode and how it gradually becomes saltier. Come to think of it, a couple of other big moments that land well also include a Netflix meta aspect (one of which has a lot of penises). Bottom line: You won’t leave The Pentaverate without a laugh, but getting there is stressful.