Friday, September 16, 2011

Pilot Review: Up All Night

Up All Night (Wednesdays at 8:00 on NBC)

Regan and her husband Chris are essentially big kids. They have spent the last seven years of their relationship thinking only of themselves: working late, staying out late, and generally enjoying themselves. But now they have a baby. Regan (Christina Applegate) must balance her volatile work life with her now-volatile private life. She goes to work daily for her best friend, Ava (Maya Rudolph), a talk show host, while Chris (Will Arnett) stays home with baby Amy.

There's not much that's actually funny about Up All Night. Christina Applegate is always an endearing presence, and Will Arnett is surprisingly appealing as her husband after a dire performance in last year's terrible Running Wilde. But the majority of their humor comes from the situation of being new parents, something I don't identify with nor do I find particularly amusing. It's not funny to me to see the two of them arguing back and forth over who got more sleep and who was up longer with the baby. It's not funny to me to see them out drinking and singing karaoke till the wee hours of the morning and then complaining of a hangover when they're awoken mere hours later by their screaming child. And it's especially not funny to me to see them attempting to tone down their use of profanity, considering every word is obnoxiously bleeped out.

The show's only truly funny character is Maya Rudolph's Ava, a neurotic and delusionally selfish foil to Applegate's Regan. She is more of a caricature than a character, but that's generally what is to be expect of sitcom characters. She's not as out-there as, say, anyone on The Office or Jess in this year's New Girl, but she has enough outrageous behavior to make her truly entertaining (despite an abrupt moment of selfless adult behavior in the pilot's final moments). Up All Night could benefit from more moments like those given to Ava in this first episode.

As it stands now, Up All Night will survive on the charm and strength of its cast. And that's a good thing considering the comedy isn't all that funny, at least not to someone like me who is more than a decade younger than these characters and without child. Perhaps you'll identify more, or find humor where I didn't find much at all.

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