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rose-byrne-funny.jpg

Why Don't We Celebrate Rose Byrne More?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 13, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 13, 2023 |


rose-byrne-funny.jpg

The freshman season of Apple TV+’s Platonic ended this week, and my review is as follows: I would love to watch a second season. The series isn’t as touching or heartfelt as Ted Lasso or Shrinking, but it’s genuinely refreshing to watch a comedy that is actually funny. Platonic is consistently amusing, and it never aims for pathos. That’s not to say it’s mean-spirited or cynical, either. It exudes the natural evolution of Nicholas Stoller’s comedic style from Neighbors and Neighbors 2.

The not-so-secret ingredient to both Neighbors films and Platonic, however, is not Seth Rogen, nor is it the charmingly likable Luke Macfarlane, who was the best part of Stoller and Billy Eichner’s amusing yet obnoxious gay romcom, Bros. The magic works because of Rose Byrne, who may be the most underappreciated and versatile actress of her generation.

Byrne is so versatile that I almost forget our first significant exposure to her was as a cold, steely attorney in five seasons of the FX series Damages. She was incredible in that role, but it almost seems wasteful given the comedic force she’s proven to be not just in Stoller’s films but as the straight woman in Bridesmaids, the villain in Spy, and as anything but the supportive wife in Mark Wahlberg’s better-than-anyone-will-admit Instant Family. What’s even more remarkable is that she’s subtly the funniest person in her comedies while also delivering solid performances in the Insidious horror franchise, and the occasional awards contender like Mrs. America. She’s even demonstrated her capacity for blockbuster superhero films (X-Men: First Class).

I wouldn’t say that Platonic is necessarily her best work, but it is her funniest. It’s to her credit that Seth Rogen is the second-funniest actor in a Seth Rogen series. While Neighbors explored the life of a new couple and Neighbors 2 centered on the lives of a more comfortably married couple, Platonic presents Rose Byrne’s character, Sylvia, in a happy and long-standing marriage that’s in a rut. She and her husband, Charlie (Luke Macfarlane), have children and are looking to move into a bigger home. Sylvia is vaguely ready to return to her career after taking care of her kids for several years.

That’s when Sylvia encounters her estranged high-school best friend, Will (Seth Rogen), and the two instantly revert to their high-school selves. This transition is liberating for Sylvia, but it also disrupts her home life. The humor mostly lies in “Look at this soccer mom getting wasted” and “Why does this forty-something-year-old man bleach his hair and refuse to grow up?” It’s also hilarious, and so much of that is because of Byrne. Of all the comedians Rogen has worked with over the years, he probably has the best chemistry with her, although Charlize Theron in Long Shot isn’t too far behind. They simply click.

For those who haven’t yet seen Platonic, there’s a sequence featuring Byrne’s character on ketamine that may be the funniest physical comedy of 2023, rivaling the scene in which a character in Joy Ride derives pleasure from a back massager and a basketball. R-rated comedy may be harder to find in theaters, but thankfully, it’s alive and well in Platonic, and Byrne is the magic that elevates it to another comedic level.

Also, not for nothing, but Rose Byrne’s 2014 Annie is better than the 1982 Annie. I said what I said.