Roush Review: ‘Kominsky Method’ Deepens in Second Season
When students in his Hollywood acting class perform a scene from Two and a Half Men (an in-joke from the Chuck Lorre oeuvre), Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) quips: “OK, that was one way to rip off The Odd Couple.”
Lorre’s comedic masterwork The Kominsky Method is actually closer in spirit to Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, which also mines humor from the pathos of aging. “Without a purpose in life, men like us are two or three Clive Cussler books away from the grave,” grouses Sandy’s best friend and thorn in his psyche, the irascible and recently widowed Norman (Alan Arkin). There’s timelessly comic give-and-take in the barbed banter between these pros, playing a past-his-prime actor and not-quite-retired super-agent, and in the second season their bond deepens amid health scares and moving reconciliations.
Douglas, a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee, shines throughout, whether reluctantly meeting and eventually befriending the considerably older beau (a game Paul Reiser) of his daughter Mindy (wry Sarah Baker), or negotiating his off-and-on relationship with occasional student Lisa (the terrific Nancy Travis). “What if we took sex off the table?” Lisa wonders. “What, you want to get married?” is Sandy’s retort, as he considers if, at his age and after so many failed marriages and meaningless conquests, it is possible for a woman to be a “best friend.”
Arkin, though, gets the richest material this season: rekindling a romance from long-ago with an elegant widow (Jane Seymour) he meets at a funeral — “At our age, it’s called having a social life” — and forging a tentative peace with his estranged daughter, Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein). Norman sums things up during one of his meals with Sandy at the Hollywood landmark Musso & Frank, as he observes their regular ancient waiter delivering drinks with perilously shaky technique and quips: “Making the mundane exciting.”
There are worse fates. And happily, there’s plenty of life left in these crabby, creaky old men.
The Kominsky Method, Season 2 Premiere, Friday, October 25, Netflix