Mel Brooks’ sequel is mixed – Variety – .

Mel Brooks’ sequel is mixed – Variety – .
Mel Brooks’ sequel is mixed – Variety – .

It’s taken 42 years, but Mel Brooks is finally delivering on a parody of a promise he never seemed likely to keep: Bringing “World History Part II” to a very wide audience. The filmmaker addresses that elephant in the room in the opening minutes of the new eight-part Hulu series, admitting he agreed to the project on two conditions – that there can be no repeat gags and that he be made to look exactly like he did in the original 1981 film.

The show gives a nod to both of these terms at the end of the first episode, setting the tone for any oblivious viewers who were expecting historical insight or the veracity of world events.

In “Part II,” the now 96-year-old Brooks returns as writer and producer, but other than the aforementioned intro, he doesn’t appear on screen. Instead, he takes over the storytelling duties of Orson Welles, a gig that dwindles as the episodes unfold. Now Nick Kroll is doing the heavy lifting, with directing, writing, producing and acting credits. He’s joined by actor-writer-producers Wanda Sykes and Ike Barinholtz, who are also ready to put their best impressions of Brooks to the test.

Like its predecessor, “Part II” is anchored by characters based on historical figures and events. He then pushes the boundaries as far as he can in an array of skits ranging from fart jokes to puns to attacks on pop culture. Unlike the original, these sketches are more vivid and designed for a savvy TikTok audience (or Galileo’s “TicciTocci” in this show’s world). Audiences dive in and out of recurring worlds with a range of standalone tracks in between.

Kroll’s Schmuck Mudman character, for example, takes viewers in and out of the Russian Revolution, where a low-key Jack Black plays a harassed and bullied Stalin character and Dove Cameron portrays Princess Anastasia as a social influencer. Meanwhile, Barinholtz’s drunk General Ulysses S. Grant dives in and out of the Civil War alongside an overgrown Abraham Lincoln (Timothy Simons), and Sykes stars in clips of the sitcom parody “Shirley !” — a “Jeffersons”-inspired rendition of revolutionary Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

The faster pace succeeds during those sketches when a joke lingers a little too long or the punchline falls flat. The team is clearly playing the odds and throwing everything against the wall, taking everything from “Real Housewives” to “Fiddler on the Roof.” If a gag or two lands in a thumbnail, chances are audiences will keep watching to see what happens next. If not, the next sketch arrives hot, taking viewers in a different direction. Add those sketches and it’s not a hilarious or groundbreaking show, but there are some hidden gems that make it quite funny.

Star scouting also becomes a bit of a game as the series progresses, with guest stars like Jason Alexander, Jay Ellis, Seth Rogen, Zazie Beetz, Taika Waititi, David Duchovny, Danny DeVito and Tyler James Williams appearing. in random roles. It’s like every comedian influenced by Brooks makes a point of stopping and laughing at themselves, whether their participation lands with the audience or not.

Kumail Nanjiani pitches his idea for “Kama Soup-tra”? Of course. Jake Johnson as Marco Polo, offering to perform oral sex for Kublai Khan (Ronny Chieng) to spare his life? Why not. Josh Gad reinventing Shakespeare as a showrunner stealing ideas in a writers’ room? Let’s do this.

This kind of range and speed ensures there’s something for everyone. But the comedy also risks alienating viewers who, for example, love the cleverness and cameos of the track “Curb Your Judaism,” but gag on Johnny Knoxville’s “Jackass” take on Rasputin (in which the holy man self-proclaimed cuts off his genitals as cameras capture every angle).

This blend is perhaps what makes this the perfectly flawed Brooks sequel that viewers have been waiting for. It’s updated enough to no longer sound like the now-problematic original and features much more inclusive jokes and bits. But it’s still over-the-top and simplistic enough in design to appeal to the masses after a long day at work.

For Brooks, it’s a hell of a way to pass the comedy baton on his own terms. “History of the World Part II” features plenty of nods and nods to the filmmaker and his undeniable influence on comedy, but it only needs to be present enough to give his approval as the next generation of satire seekers takes over.

In the words of the self-proclaimed national treasure, it’s good to be king.

Hulu’s “History of the World Part II” kicks off Monday, March 6 with two episodes airing nightly (eight in total) through Thursday, March 9.


. suite Mel Brooks is mixed Variety

. Mel Brooks sequel mixed Variety

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