The Reunion’ is a bloated fountain of nostalgia

Could the “Friends” reunion particular be any extra hyped? 

After pandemic-induced manufacturing delays and rampant online speculation about its particulars, “Friends: The Reunion” finally hits HBO Max on Thursday at midnight PST/3 a.m. EST. 

Clocking in at an hour and 44 minutes, it’s a movie-length affair that reunites the hit sitcom’s core six stars: Jennifer Aniston, 52, Courteney Cox, 56, Lisa Kudrow, 57, Matt LeBlanc, 53, Matthew Perry, 51, and David Schwimmer, 54. 

Although they are saying that they’ve saved in contact because the present aired from 1994-2004 — besides, maybe, with Perry, who joked, “I don’t hear from anyone” — viewers are knowledgeable that this is really among the many few instances that each one six of them have been in a room collectively in 17 years. 

The unscripted particular, which was initially meant to be half of HBO Max’s launch final May till its extended delay as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, is self-indulgent. For probably the most half, nonetheless, it does a good job of making the argument that it’s earned it.

Matthew Perry, Matt Leblanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow are reunited.
HBO Max/Terence Patrick
The "Friends" cast in Season 10: Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox
The “Friends” solid in 2004: Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

For occasion, there’s a highlight on the present’s world affect within the type of a shifting montage of followers world wide telling the digicam about how “Friends” taught them English or made them chuckle throughout attempting instances.

We’re additionally reminded that 25 million folks tuned into every episode — staggering, contemplating half of that quantity is thought of huge by right this moment’s requirements.

LeBlanc says his newfound fame hit him round Season 2 (circa 1995), when he turned on a information station and noticed the solid’s homes on-screen and heard a helicopter buzzing overhead filming — prompting him to assume, “My roof is a mess!”

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc on the set of "Friends: The Reunion."
The “Friends” solid on the set of their 2021 reunion particular: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc.
Terence Patrick
The "Friends" cast in Season 1: Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston
The “Friends” solid in 1994: (Clockwise from high left) Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox.
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

“Friends: The Reunion” jumps between varied segments, together with an out of doors solid interview with James Corden in entrance of an viewers and scenes of the solid sharing recollections whereas strolling by means of iconic units resembling Central Perk. They additionally play a “Friends” trivia sport whereas they’re on the set of Monica and Rachel’s condo, throughout which even Perry is stumped by the query of what his character Chandler’s job was.

Pre-taped documentary type footage is additionally included. The present’s creators, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, share tales and reveal that Monica and Chandler weren’t alleged to be a lasting couple. It wasn’t till the constructive viewers response to their hook-up that the storyline was modified. There are additionally celeb followers resembling Kit Harington, David Beckham and Mindy Kaling gushing to the digicam about “Friends” and, of course, clips aplenty from the present. 

Central Perk coffee shop from "Friends"
The iconic Central Perk set that seems within the reunion.
Terence Patrick

It might all be chaotic — and it is a tad overstuffed — however the transitions between all of the shifting elements are largely seamless.

Notables resembling Beckham, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and Korean boy band sensation BTS appeared random when HBO Max first announced the star-studded lineup — however their inclusion feels natural. Malala and BTS illustrate the present’s worldwide affect, with BTS members noting that “Friends” helped the band study English. Beckham talks to the digicam about how he finds consolation watching “Friends” throughout his many stints in international resort rooms, and his rundown of his favourite episode (Season 3’s “The One Where Nobody’s Ready”) results in the solid and creators launching into a juicy behind-the-scenes breakdown of its making. 

The "Friends" cast in 2004: Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry,  and Courteney Cox
The “Friends” solid in Season 10: Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox
©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Not all of the star-studded elements work — Lady Gaga’s cameo feels unrelated and distracts from the give attention to “Friends.”

But there are revelations galore. LeBlanc shares that Cox used to jot down her traces out on the kitchen desk, prompting a prank. (“Before we shot, I erased it all, and she got so mad at me!” he says). Schwimmer notes how he disliked working along with his character Ross’ pet monkey Marcel (“It was time for Marcel to f – – k off!”). And Perry confesses that he suffered excessive “unhealthy” anxiousness about whether or not his jokes would land, to which Kudrow exclaims, “You didn’t tell us that!”

For viewers who’re lukewarm on “Friends,” the bloated particular is unlikely to win any converts. For followers, nonetheless, it’s properly definitely worth the watch and is a fountain of nostalgia.

The Friends Stage plaque on set
Terence Patrick

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