By Bill Arceneaux
7 Days in Hell is a silly, get what you expect mockumentary project from HBO. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of it until the idea to write about it had been pitched to me. I only have Showtime. And, for the most part, I find it difficult to keep track of Andy Samberg’s many projects. Not to say I’m tired of the comedian, but that he does so much so often. My cup of Samberg dilutes every once in a while, I suppose. Eww?
In this forty minute special, Samberg plays tennis sensation and all around bad boy Aaron Williams, who sports a rockin’ hairdo straight out of a previous decade. Aaron cusses, gestures, and fornicates his way to many a victory, before a sudden tragic accidental murder forces him into early retirement.
This first part of 7 Days, with little to no grounding, throws the audience completely into the deep end, and offers no help in floating. It’s like a slightly more vulgar episode of the great Aqua Teen Hunger Force show, whose opening movie musical number famously stated, “If you don’t understand, you should not be here.” 7 Days isn’t as absurdly avant-garde, but it is as absurd. And that’s a good thing. Very good.
During Williams’ retirement, a young player named Charles Poole climbs up the ranks of the tennis elite, and catches so much fire that the now incarcerated Williams comes out of retirement via a jail break to play against the upstart Poole in Wimbledon. What follows is a match with almost no end that lasts for, well, seven days.
In these seven days, we see everything from attempted vehicular manslaughter, drug use, sex, more sex, impossibly fast tennis playing, and elderly beat downs. Never before has the game been so… interesting.
Throughout 7 Days, the mockumentary formula is followed perfectly, interviewing real life sportscasters and players, comedians and actors appearing in cameo, and using flashback vintage style footage.
For me, some of the funnier segments came from Will Forte—MacGruber himself—who, in short bursts, says some of the most quietly gross and softly spoken disturbances you’ll hear from a person. It’s an art, I say, to make one chuckle so hard they spray milk from their nose, without even drinking it. Wait—is that right?
I was expecting something like Balls Out, the Sean William Scott tennis movie, but got something more akin to an Adult Swim program. That’s not a knock to Balls Out, but in comparison, that feels like a modern National Lampoons flick. 7 Days in Hell is almost museum level ridiculous.
It really is a sort of art piece, existing with no rhyme or reason, going from one subversion to the next digression, and back again. Here I am, a fan of David Lynch and the like, and I almost went about without knowing about this. Almost!
Samberg and company have crafted a valuable comic experience, one that questions if modern comedy is postmodern or not. I think it is. Most comedy has tripped into the trippy, and in its present has moved into the future.
5 / 5 stars