If you missed the opening season of Kidding on Showtime, now you have the opportunity to rectify that error. The 10-episode dark comedy focuses on Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), a children’s television presenter and the face of a multi-million dollar brand that begins a downward spiral when tragedy strikes his family. Now, this little gem of darkness, a twisted and somewhat hopeful story, is available on DVD for your visual pleasure.
The joke is a story that is difficult to deflect and that is difficult to see, even when you want to do it desperately. The well-developed characters, anchored by Carrey but supplemented by phenomenal support players like Judy Greer, Frank Langella, Catherine Keener, and newcomers Cole Allen and Juliet Morris, are easy to love despite their innumerable mistakes and misadventures. Carrey’s Jeff is both the patriarch of the family and the heart of the Mr. Pickles brand, though he is often criticized by friends, family, and co-workers for being too weak to adequately alter his personal life or business.
And since Mr. Pickles IP is a family affair, Jeff’s father, Seb (Langella), is a manipulative and ruthless executive, while his sister Deirdre (Keener) is a talented puppet maker who dreams of becoming more. Tangled to unhealthy extremes. As if all that stress was not enough, the tragic loss of a child threatens to fracture the foundations of family and business, possibly taking Jeff’s sanity with them.
If you want a complete review of Kidding, do yourself a favor and check out our own version of Vinnie Mancuso here. I have a sunnier view of the series than even Vinnie’s praiseworthy review, but that may be because Kidding checks all the possible boxes for me. It’s a dark version of a cheerful character, more Mr. Rogers than Dexter, but stuck somewhere in the vast gray area between the two. There are cracks in Mr. Pickles’ facade that are easy to detect throughout the season if he is looking for them, but it is also easy to overlook them if he does not want to believe that some darkness is hidden in the heart of such a good man. Carrey is perhaps the perfect choice for the role, as he is able to keep his iconic craze under control while providing a poignant performance that goes deep enough to connect with that innocent child in all of us. So, if you are a child, you are safe with Mr. Pickles; If you are an adult who crosses it but manages to be touched by his innocence and pure idealism, he could change you for the better … but if you get in his way, be careful.
The joke is absolutely worthy of being picked up on DVD if you are interested in the premise of the work of Carrey, the creator Dave Holstein (Weeds) or the director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). It is a dark and solid comedy from beginning to end. Also, it comes with some pretty creative bonus features to complete the startup version.
Meet Mr. Pickles (~ 2 minutes)
Jim Carrey introduces viewers to Mr. Pickles, a children’s animator for more than 30 years who “sees life in an idealistic way, not unlike Mr. Rogers.” But things get difficult for Mr. Pickles, so we’ll see how it works. The suffering and the experience of a terrible loss change it, for better or for worse.
Meet the Pickles family (~ 2 minutes)
Carrey also presents the extended Pickles family. His father, Seb (Frank Langella) and his sister, Deirdre (Catherine Keener).
The cast of support joins Carrey to bring the characters to life and show how they fit into the show within the show, and also into the dramatic arc.
Shooting the Shaina sequence (~ 2 minutes)
A parallel photograph of the sequence of Episode 3, “Every Pain Needs a Name”, in which Shaina’s living room transforms from a drug drone to an apartment arranged for a party, all in one shot. It is a fascinating vision of the work of the camera, the changing of the wardrobe, the movement of the scenery and the accessories, the handling of the animal and more than all this is achieved in less than two minutes.
I would love to see a planning session or a detailed breakdown of exactly what is happening in this scene, but this side-by-side combination is a great addition by itself.
How did the child become?
A totally original piece that uses clippings to show how Dave Holstein took his idea from the writing phase to the final production, with many intermediate steps.
For a crudely beautiful (or beautifully raw) animation, it takes about 90 seconds very fast, although it’s worth watching in slow motion to get the full experience.