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TV Review: 7 Days in Hell

07.17.2015
 

PLOT: The shocking, (un)true story of tennis champs Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg) and Charles Poole (Kit Harington) who – for seven days at Wimbleton in 2001 – played the longest tennis match in history.

REVIEW: As likely anyone else who’s seen this can tell you, the funniest comedy of the year (so far) will not be found in your local multiplex. Instead, you need look no further than HBO On-Demand where you can catch this gut-buster of a mockumentary. It packs more laughs into its tight fifty minute running time than most big-screen comedy hits and is a pretty brilliant little one-off most of us probably didn’t see coming. Written by Girls producer/writer Murray Miller, directed by former Saturday Night Live helmer Jake Szymanski, and co-produced by star Andy Samberg, the best way to describe this is probably as the funniest (and dirtiest) SNL Digital Short ever – only stretched out to almost an hour. And it never drags. Not ever.

 

Fitting the comedy pedigree of the behind-the-scenes talent, 7 DAYS IN HELL is jampacked with stars galore. Aided by the mockumentary format, many of them aren’t called on to do much more than be talking heads, but each and every one of them gives an inspired performance, ranging from Fred Armisen as tony English sports commentator Edward Pudding, Will Forte as bearded superfan Sandy Pickard to Lena Dunham as a mullet-wearing exec for eighties favorites Jordache jeans. The unlikelier guest-stars are even better, with real life tennis champ John McEnroe playing himself to perfection and David Copperfield stealing every scene as himself, including a genius bit where he’s surprised to learn that cocaine is in fact illegal.

Other contributors include a surprisingly hilarious Michael Sheen as perverted, cigarette-smoking chat show host Caspian Wint, Jon Hamm as the deadpan narrator, Karen Gillan as a cool Britannia supermodel, and best of all, NEBRASKA’s June Squibb as the foul-mouthed and violent Queen of England.

 

However, 7 DAYS IN HELL’s ultimate success all comes down to the two stars. Andy Samberg arguably helped revitalize SNL in the 2000’s but has never really had a strong big-screen vehicle to propel him to Will Ferrell levels of comedy stardom. 7 DAYS IN HELL feels like a strong push in the right direction. His mullet-sporting tennis champ feels like a dead-on parody of Andre Agassi at his most outrageous, only given a healthy dose of absurdity, including bits where his powerful tennis serve kills someone and an extended scene where he interrupts a match to have sex with a female streaker, followed by a male one, and then (naturally) both of them together.

His co-star, Kit Harington is an inspired bit of casting. While playing Jon Snow on Game of Thrones certainly never allowed him to even crack a smile, he shows some real comic chops playing the thick-headed Charles Poole with the same grimness he brings to Snow, which only enhances the comedy.

The mockumentary format allows the filmmakers to go off on all kinds of hilarious tangents, including staging CGI Swedish prison orgies (with commentary by a subtitled Dolph Lundgren in footage repurposed from a vintage interview) and a long, hilarious story about a Swedish courtroom illustrator with a desire to make court-reporting “fun”. It’s all totally insane, but it works so well. The tight run-time means that 7 DAYS IN HELL never has a chance to overstay its welcome, and if you walk away from this with any complaints it’ll likely only be that you’ll wish it was longer. Hopefully HBO will do more of these one-off specials as this was a real laugh-riot from start-to-finish. If somehow this has flown under your radar, you owe it to yourself to check this out. It’s a must-see.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:09AM on 07/18/2015

Just Watched It

It was a good waste of time. Like the bastard child of Borat and Best In Show. I don't know if I can get quite to a 9 with ya Chris, but it is at least a 7ish. I like Andy Samberg a lot, but unfortunately he doesn't really get to shine much here as the supporting cast is so quirky and interesting they outshine him. But he's good none the less. Kit Harrington shows some decent comic timing. But it is MIchael Sheen that steals the show. We really need allow TV movies into this year's Golden
It was a good waste of time. Like the bastard child of Borat and Best In Show. I don't know if I can get quite to a 9 with ya Chris, but it is at least a 7ish. I like Andy Samberg a lot, but unfortunately he doesn't really get to shine much here as the supporting cast is so quirky and interesting they outshine him. But he's good none the less. Kit Harrington shows some decent comic timing. But it is MIchael Sheen that steals the show. We really need allow TV movies into this year's Golden Schmoes just so I can nominate Michael Sheen's supporting turn here. The dude is a brilliant actor in general, but watching him just play this off the wall character was great fun. Anyway, like I said, this movie won't, or at least shouldn't, change anybody's life, but there are much worse ways to kill an hour. Thanks for putting it on my radar Chris.
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10:32PM on 07/17/2015

LOVED it

Not everyones brand of humor, but damn i had a blast watching it. Had me in stitches the whole time, nearly cried laughing. Completely outrageous at times.
So many hilarious quotes too.

"We knew he was on cocaine but in England it's very rude to point things out."
Not everyones brand of humor, but damn i had a blast watching it. Had me in stitches the whole time, nearly cried laughing. Completely outrageous at times.
So many hilarious quotes too.

"We knew he was on cocaine but in England it's very rude to point things out."
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4:37PM on 07/17/2015
I'll have to watch it again. I would have given it a 6/10. It had it's moments.
I'll have to watch it again. I would have given it a 6/10. It had it's moments.
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3:32PM on 07/17/2015
I thought this was going to get a 1 out of 10 rating because it was so shitty, but I see this and I am very surprised.
I thought this was going to get a 1 out of 10 rating because it was so shitty, but I see this and I am very surprised.
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+1
2:42PM on 07/17/2015

hilarious

Watched this the other week on sky and I've watched it twice since! It is the funniest thing I've seen all year!
Watched this the other week on sky and I've watched it twice since! It is the funniest thing I've seen all year!
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1:20PM on 07/17/2015
its really good.definitely worth watching.its like Blades of Glory,Zoolander,Talladega nights,This is Spinal Tap
its really good.definitely worth watching.its like Blades of Glory,Zoolander,Talladega nights,This is Spinal Tap
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12:56PM on 07/17/2015

Indubitably

Haven't head that hard in a long time.
Haven't head that hard in a long time.
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12:35PM on 07/17/2015
Loved everything about this thing. I hadn't laughed like that in a while. HIGHLY recommend it as well.
Loved everything about this thing. I hadn't laughed like that in a while. HIGHLY recommend it as well.
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+3
10:20AM on 07/17/2015
I can't remember how many big screen comedies I've seen where one becomes aware, at some point, that the material has been stretched to fill out a feature-length runtime or where the [link] just loved the idea of the product so much that they ended up with a product that slowly became less and less funny. 7 Days was just long enough and seldom drove a joke into the ground. I wish writers/directors would take a cue from it and learn that more is not always better.
I can't remember how many big screen comedies I've seen where one becomes aware, at some point, that the material has been stretched to fill out a feature-length runtime or where the [link] just loved the idea of the product so much that they ended up with a product that slowly became less and less funny. 7 Days was just long enough and seldom drove a joke into the ground. I wish writers/directors would take a cue from it and learn that more is not always better.
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6:29PM on 07/19/2015
It's a parody of ESPNs "30 for 30" sports documentary series they put on for ESPNs 30th anniversary. They're all "shorts" and so is this mockumentary of one.
It's a parody of ESPNs "30 for 30" sports documentary series they put on for ESPNs 30th anniversary. They're all "shorts" and so is this mockumentary of one.
10:16AM on 07/17/2015
Wow, 9 out of 10? I've got to watch this.
Wow, 9 out of 10? I've got to watch this.
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10:15AM on 07/17/2015
This was fucking hilarious. Michael Sheen alone as the creepy pervy sports show host had me rolling.
This was fucking hilarious. Michael Sheen alone as the creepy pervy sports show host had me rolling.
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2:43PM on 07/17/2015
Crackerjack!
Crackerjack!
+1
9:56AM on 07/17/2015

So good

Watched this the other day and laughed my ass off. So funny for so many reasons. From Copperfield to A-Willie to the drunken Queen's phone message this mockumentary was just aces. probably my favorite line from the whole thing was John McEnroe's line of "Most people would for fit the match after killing a guy but Williams didn't, cause he's an ass hole."
Watched this the other day and laughed my ass off. So funny for so many reasons. From Copperfield to A-Willie to the drunken Queen's phone message this mockumentary was just aces. probably my favorite line from the whole thing was John McEnroe's line of "Most people would for fit the match after killing a guy but Williams didn't, cause he's an ass hole."
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