PLATONIC Review: With Friends Like These

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne reunite with 'Neighbors' director Nicholas Stoller for a raunchy comedy series, now streaming on Apple TV+.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
PLATONIC Review: With Friends Like These

I love you, but maybe you're bad for me?

The first three episodes are now streaming on Apple TV+. Subsequent episodes will debut globally every Wednesday. I've seen all 10 episodes.

In Neighbors (2014), Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne displayed great comic chemistry as a married couple with a newborn who end up living next door to a fraternity house. Stupid, silly and slovenly hijinks ensue, of the sort that Seth Rogen has become associated with throughout his career.

Rose Byrne, however, struck me as a comic revolution, primarily because I barely remembered her performances in Get Him to the Greek (2010) or Bridesmaids (2011). Director and writer Nicholas Stoller is the throughline here, since he directed Byrne in Get Him to the Greek and directed Neighbors and its sequel, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016).

Rogen, Byrne and Stoller reunite in Platonic, together with Francesca Delbanco, Stoller's longtime marriage mate and creative partner on the Netflix series Friends From College (2017) . The set-up here is told initially through the perspective of Sylvia (Rose Byrne), happily married to Charlie (Luke Macfarlane) for some years, with children in Southern California suburbia. She learns that Will (Seth Rogen), a very good platonic friend from her debauched party days and nights in college, has recently divorced and reaches out to him.

After an awkward start, they reconnect. Sylvia put her career as an attorney on hold to raise her family; now that the children are in school and her husband is constantly busy, she's entered a period of malaise and melancholy. Will is a brewmaster and part-owner of a successful brew-pub. A large corporation has signaled interest in acquiring the brew-pub, which puts Will at loggerheads with his business partners, since he wants to remain independent, while his partners want to sell out as quickly as possible.

The set-up creates ample time and sufficient reason for Sylvia and Will to get back together. What Sylvia soon realizes is that, possibly, maybe, probably, Will's friendship is not good for her, especially now that she's settled into a comfortable suburban family lifestyle.

Their friendship is like a drug, though; the more she tries to pull away, the more she is drawn back into it. And some evidence suggests strongly that this sort of release is good for her, helping her to get back in touch with the person she was in her younger days. As for Will, he clings to Sylvia as a friendly, calming buoy in a storm-tossed sea, desperate for some sort of friendship, even if it may be toxic for both of them.

If this is the kind of story that could be wrapped up in a 90-minute feature film, the length of each episode (about 30 minutes) allows for extended, purely comic interludes that are like a stand-up routine, punching up individual episodes and making them effortless to watch. It's silly, it's raunchy, it's not all good, but it also features a number of wildly hilarious scenes, at least one per episode, that are distinctively different from what Byrne and Rogen have done before, and expand Byrne's range to new comic heights.

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Apple TV+Nicholas StollerRose ByrneSeth RogenUS

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