REVIEW: ‘The Pentaverate’ Marks A Less-Than-Welcome Return To Comedy For Mike Meyers

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The Pentaverate - But Why Tho

The Pentaverate is a Netflix Original Limited Series created by Mike Myers. Myers portrays Canadian journalist Ken Scarborough, who is attempting to hold onto his job after years of puff pieces. He soon gets his chance when he attends a conspiracy convention and learns of The Pentaverate—a secret society comprised of five members who have helped shape world events for the self-proclaimed “betterment of humanity.”  As Ken attempts to infiltrate the Penteverate with his trusty camerawoman Reilly Clayton (Lydia West), the society is rocked by the death of one of their members—and the fact that there may be a traitor in their midst.

The Penteverate can trace its roots back to a joke in Myers’ 1993 cult hit, So I Married An Axe Murderer, where characters describe a conspiracy theory that involves seemingly disparate elements such as Colonel Sanders and the Black Plague. On the one hand, this was a rather hilarious bit. On the other hand, taking a throwaway joke from a ’90s era movie and attempting to make a movie out of it is a stretch even by Hollywood’s IP-obsessed standards. And it doesn’t even work that well due to the execution of the premise and the self-indulgent standards of its creator.

Myers attempts to use the same trick that served him well in the Austin Powers films, using prosthetics to make himself over into different characters. This includes Scarborough, as well as four of the five members of the Pentaverate—and even a right-wing news personality and conspiracy theorist. True, he alters his voice to sound like a Russian mystic and an Australian news mogul, but they all feel like shades of the same character. And that’s not even getting into Myers’ writing. He’s co-written the entire series and it’s filled with unfunny gags that belong in the early 2000s, including thinly disguised jokes about fecal matter. But perhaps the most egregious moment comes whenever a Netflix executive shows up and attempts to “alter” the footage into something more palatable. We get it, Netflix, you paid an obscene amount of money for this series!

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the series attempts to be topical. Toward the end, the topic of disinformation and the rise of the Internet comes up, as the mysterious murderer in the Pentaverate is revealed. And it falls flatter than day-old soda. Comedy absolutely can and should tackle serious issues; in fact, many comedians root their jokes in truth. But for that to work, it actually has to be funny. One of the reasons I simultaneously laughed and groaned at Don’t Look Up was because it managed to perfectly capture how absurd the news cycle can be, especially when it comes to covering important issues. The Pentaverate could have used some of that energy, though it probably would have required different writers.

The rest of the cast is the series’ sole highlight, because they actually remembered that this is supposed to be a comedy and they aren’t weighed down by Meyers’ gimmicks. West gets to play the straight man to Meyers’ befuddled Scarborough, and both Ken Jeong and Keegan Michael-Key provide some of the series’ only laughs, which revolve around the fact that their characters are the only non-white men to join the Pentaverate. These scenes made me laugh, and also made me hope that after this and The Bubble Key finds a Netflix project that uses his talents to their fullest extent. Even Jeremy Irons gets in on the action, serving as the opening narrator for each episode and poking fun at people who try to skip the credits. Director Tim Kirkby also adds some visual flair to the proceedings. One of the few jokes that lands involve Canada being portrayed through the grainy filter of a VHS tape while America is more “hi-definition.”

The Pentaverate is a less-than-stellar return to comedy for Mike Myers, featuring outdated jokes, an attempt at topicality that falls flat, and a waste of talented comedians. It’s also another reminder that Netflix needs to remember that quality, not quantity, is what makes its originals stand out.

All episodes of The Pentaverate are now available to stream on Netflix.


The Pentaverate
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    Rating - 4/10
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TL;DR

The Pentaverate is a less-than-stellar return to comedy for Mike Myers, featuring outdated jokes, an attempt at topicality that falls flat, and a waste of talented comedians. It’s also another reminder that Netflix needs to remember that quality, not quantity, is what makes its originals stand out.