Mr. Corman has an identity crisis. From writer, director, executive producer, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this AppleTV+ comedy tinged with a melancholic vibe actually feels more like an existential meltdown amid a seemingly cheerful existence.
In a series of self-reflective moments, Josh Corman (Gordon-Levitt) dreams big dreams between teaching fifth grade and fending off pep talks from mom (Debra Winger!) as he struggles to figure out what his piece of the human puzzle is is supposed to be.
Now, everyone has regrets and wonders what if, and our titular Mr. Corman is no exception, His music career didn’t happen, and Plan B was academia as he finds himself teaching fifth grade at a school in the San Fernando Valley.
About Mr. Corman
“What am I doing with my life” is the thought bubble over Mr. Corman’s head. Josh’s ex-fiancé Megan has left. His high school pal (Arturo Castro) is now his roomie.
Josh is saddled with 30-something panic attacks and anxiety, all stoked by a huge wave of self-doubt.
And truth be told, there are a lot of 30-somethings grappling with loan debt, aging parents, being priced out of housing markets, COVID affecting dating, and on and on.
The cast is interesting in an excellent way as the series stars Gordon-Levitt and Arturo Castro, Debra Winger, Bobby Hall, aka Logic, Alexander Jo, Juno Temple, Jamie Chung, Shannon Woodward, and Hector Hernandez.
The bad news
There’s familiar angst to all of this dramedy, and the message of finding your path or bliss or whatever salvo is au courant these days seems to fall on deaf ears with Josh. He cannot find his groove.
Loneliness is a thing these days, not to be snickered at. The pandemic has only heightened our awareness. So many lonely people are sitting in crap apartments who wondered what the hell went wrong or where they may have misstepped in life.
That’s not a comedy. It’s a condemnation of a society that lets higher education institutions saddle ordinary people to taking on crushing debt on the CHANCE that a degree will land them a job that would pay off.
The good news
The cast. Arturo Castro (Broad City) plays his roommate Victor in this series, and Debra Winger plays his mother. Both of these actors are incredible at their craft, and it is really terrific to see Debra Winger back at it.
The series also instills a sense of trying and trying again until you figure your crap out, which too often people don’t. They give up. Josh takes a stab at things, anyway. There’s a feeling of impending optimism despite all of Josh’s moping.
There’s also a complete disregard for a standard structural formula in this comedy, as musical numbers pop up unexpectedly. The editing and camerawork add to the overall quirk of this effort.
Hopefully, by season end, the clouds will part, and Josh will find his way, one that makes him feel good about himself again. But, in the interim, enjoy the ride with a cast of actors that deliver the goods and are welcome sights to be seen working again.
“Mr. Corman” premieres Friday, August 6, on Apple TV Plus.
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