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Cuba Gooding, Jr. Is Having a Neil Patrick Harris in 'White Castle' Moment and You're Missing It

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 14, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 14, 2015 |

It’s been flying under the radar throughout its first season, so far, but if you’re not watching Big Time in Hollywood, Fl., you should be. And if you watched the first couple of episodes and checked out, I encourage you to check back in, because there’s more to it than just seeing Ben Stiller get blown away by multiple cops. It’s an intensely hysterical series that lays an absurd foundation and continues to build upon that absurdity in a way that reminds me of the greatest sketch I have ever seen: “Kristen Schaal is a Horse.”

The sketch is only funny if you watch it in its entirety — all ten minutes — because it goes from absurd to obnoxious to “I WANT TO KILL KRISTEN SCHAAL, RESURRECT HER, AND KILL HER AGAIN” until it finally flowers into full-blown piss-your-pants hysteria. By minute nine, I was laughing so hard I nearly threw up.

In many ways, that’s the experience of watching Big Time in Hollywood, Fl. It’s about these two incredibly obnoxious brothers — Jack (Alex Anfanger, who also created the series) and Ben (Lenny Jacobson) — who are aspiring filmmakers who have no real understanding or talent for filmmaking. In their early 20s, their parents (Stephen Tobolowsky and Kathy Baker) decide it’s time for them to move out. Unable to handle the real world, Jack and Ben concoct a story to their parents in which they suggest that Ben is addicted to drugs, is in deep with a drug dealer (Ben Stiller, playing an actor pretending to be a drug dealer), and that they need $20,000 to get out of debt.

Through a series of misunderstandings, the actor pretending to be a drug dealer is killed — over and over and over again — by the cops, and from there, things continue to spiral so out of control that they end up in cahoots with a cocaine-snorting Cuba Gooding, Jr. (playing himself). Without revealing too much, I’ll only say that Gooding is also in deep with a drug kingpin, and he’s forced to resort to very creative means in order to avoid having his corpse found floating up on a shore somewhere.

Gooding is incredible here, too, somehow playing a larger than life version of his already larger-than-life personae. He’s taken a page right out of Neil Patrick Harris’ White Castle notebook, and if anyone ever watches Big Time in Hollywood, Fl., it may be a role that will pull him out of a career in Redbox movies.

There have been a series of other cameos, as well — Jane Kaczmarek, Paz Vega, Michael Madsen, Matt Besser, and Keith David — but it’s Gooding, as well as the two leads and their sad-sack sidekick, Del (Jon Bass), who have kept their foot on the gas, upping the ante each week. It sometimes feels like one of SNL’s Digital Shorts that’s been stretched beyond the point at which it’s no longer welcome and traveled into new “Oh My God, is this really happening?” territory. It’s bizarre, and hilarious, and terrible, and amazing all at the same time, and there’s nothing else like it on television now.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.