“He was in Mount Rushmore. It’s a movie”
First things first: Jason Schwartzman, guys! It’s great to see Schwartzman joining this troupe of weirdos, dipping his toe in this sort of thing, and he does a more than fine job (although not much is requested of him). I hope he continues to work with these guys and this isn’t the last time we see him popping up in their worlds. He definitely has more to offer and wasn’t being used to his greatest potential here. It’s also nice to see Schwartzman poking fun at himself here and doing an exaggerated version of who he is, too. He’s placed in a universe where he’s surrounded by adoring public and paparazzi alike as we get the most cliché, rote version of what being a “celebrity” is.
Not far into things Jason is confronted with a devil’s deal of two million dollars for one day’s worth of endorsement work that no one’s even going to see. Jason waxes on about how uncomfortable he is with the entire commercial vibe and his agent refers to him to a wire company that does the entire commercial for him while he peacefully slumbers away. Jason is sold, and that is that, as he’s whisked away in a body bag in the middle of the night to be off to his commercial experience.
There’s a brief appearance by Tim and Eric as the managers of the wire company, always needing to “go for” someone. There’s something to be said for the complicated nature of this company, the minutiae of it that the episode chooses to get into, and just how much these people respect their unusual job, almost more than Schwartzman does being an actor.
Strussel, the fancy watch ad, ends up going global, meaning the admonishing ad isn’t just shown in foreign markets, but rather everywhere, including a billboard up in Sunset Boulevard, as Schwartzman is humiliated by the droopy, off-putting, warped image of his face that makes him look like a dink. Even Jimmy Kimmel gets some digs in him during his talk show as he slowly loses everything he has, piece by piece.
One of the strongest elements throughout the episode is its tone and sense of dread that slowly accumulates through it all until we’re drowning it by the end. It’s some really nice, understated work that helps hold all of this together. Similarly, there’s some creeping, increasingly haunted lullaby music coursing through this entire segment. It never overpowers the episode or steals focus, but its constant presence is crucial to the atmosphere that’s built.
This is all funny enough as Schwartzman must deal with the photoshopped consequences of having done a gig while asleep, as people are disgusted at Schwartzman’s image while his actual face is fine and normal. It also feels extremely childish and half-baked as well though. It’s something you chuckle over, not laugh at. It’s easy.
All of this ends on the twisted, broken note of Schwartzman ruined, and the evil paparazzi (who particularly resemble the nightmare creatures who live above the convenience store from the Black lodge in Twin Peaks) holding the power and control as people cower to their wicked will. It feels abrupt when the credits smash onto the screen that this is the note that we’re leaving on, but it is. If we ever went out on a nightmare before, then this is truly it.
Definitely the highlight of the episode was the Holywood Wrap-Up digression at the end, and seeing that it wasn’t just a TV program, but an elaborate part of the scheming paparazzi. “There’s much work to be done” one of them groans as he refers to his prisoner as a “troll.” There’s extremely sinister, dark stuff bubbling underneath all of this.
Schwartzman’s dink of a face should hardly be the priority.