By Josh Reilly B.
Legendary comedic actor Mike Myers recently returned to the starring role in a humorous outing in Netflix’s The Pantaverate, in which the Canadian plays several of the lead characters, something that he often does in his projects. In recent years, Myers hasn’t been quite as active as he once was, when he starred in a trilogy of Austin Powers films, Wayne’s World, and more. In fact, Myers went several years without appearing on camera in a film or show, and instead opted to stick to voice acting roles in various Shrek titles in particular.
None of this is to say that Mike Myers couldn’t land the live action, mainstream roles he once did; quite the opposite, in fact. Myers has been clear that it was his decision to creatively focus on less projects at a time, and it’s in this stretch that the actor wrote his first book, aptly titled Canada, which serves as a memoir and a reflection on the history and culture of his home country. Myers did take a few supporting roles in more serious films, such as the Oscar winning Bohemian Rhapsody, but it’s fair to say that audiences have missed his on screen comedic touch.
This is where The Pentaverate comes in, a six episode series that is a return to the actor’s comedic roots. The season focuses on a group of wealthy elites who secretly run global society, but who are threatened by an unknown person that is attempting to systematically kill each member. These men are all played by Myers, aside from the new entries in the form of Keegan Michael Key and Ken Jeong. Another threat to the group are the vast number of conspiracy theorists who, for years, have stated their belief that a secret organization is pulling the strings from behind the curtain. Interestingly, the Pantaverate and a crucial event in the season, The Meadows, were mentioned in Mike Myers’ So I Married an Axe Murderer, in which a conspiracy theorist rants about the existence of a wealthy secret society.
As far as comedy goes, The Pentaverate fails to live up to many of Myers’ best works as many of the jokes and humorous moments fall flat. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any laughs to be had while watching, but it’s not as funny or as clever as some of Myers’ films like Austin Powers, for example. There are many moments that are set up to invoke big laughs from the viewers at home, but again most of these don’t land. Throughout the six episodes, some of the funniest aspects of the show were the more subtle jokes sprinkled in throughout.
Another issue with the humor in The Pentaverate was the sheer inconsistency in the type of comedy it was aiming for. As mentioned, there were many subtle, cleaver jokes that often served as commentary on the real world. There were also plenty of self referential jokes, such as Shrek’s appearance, the Netflix executive’s comments on the show, and one episode’s Stranger Things opening. Some more child oriented humor also appeared as well. Balancing different styles of humor inside one comedic project isn’t a problem, but the fact that The Pentaverate doesn’t fuse them together well serves as a main negative of the season. At times, it feels as if the show jarringly switches from one style of humor to the next, sometimes in the same scene, meaning that Myers’ latest work often struggles to find its solid comedic footing.
Despite the comedic struggles, The Pentaverate is still most certainly worth watching for Netflix subscribers. The series is frighteningly relevant, not only in terms of those that put stock into baseless and dangerous conspiracy theories but also the sheer power that wealthy elites wield in the United States in particular, where most right wing politicians are backed by high profile rich donors that too often are in control. Without spoilers, the finale also features an eye opening and necessary truth about not only the show but the real world as well, as one of the primary characters details how this secret group values diversity in the lower levels of the organization but the actual decision makers that hold the power and control are all old white men. Myers, who co-wrote every episode of the season, expertly integrates this into the show.
The internet plays a heavy role in the season as well, with one Pentaverate member in particular voicing his frustration at the creation of the web and its uncontrollable nature. The series clearly commentates on the state of the internet and social media, with many overt signals stating that the world began to take a darker turn once everything became more connected, and once accepted facts were now being disputed despite a complete lack of evidence. The rise of fake news is most certainly the main inspiration for the show, although it is interesting that the Pentaverate as a group were mentioned decades ago in another Myers movie, so perhaps the actor was clever enough to see what was coming in regards to disinformation.
The show’s humor, while very hit or miss (and too often the latter), along with its many themes and real world commentary are all pulled together into one cohesive, enjoyable narrative by the many performances of its star, Mike Myers. The comedian has arguably never given a bad performance in his career, even in some of his less beloved titles like The Love Guru. No matter the quality or outcome of the project at hand, Myers always seems to shine, and this continues again here. The sheer dedication to play so many characters, all of whom have some sort of heavy makeup, prosthetics, or hair pieces to distinguish them, must have been quite an undertaking for Myers, especially after having done this on so many occasions prior. Still, Myers’ dedication is unmatched, as is his sheer range to play so many different characters. It’s long since been established that Myers is a performer with the ability to do many different voices and accents, and this is certainly reconfirmed in The Pentaverate.
The Pentaverate suffers from a frustrating amount of times when its humor doesn’t hit the mark, but is supported by an amazing Mike Myers that once again proves that he’s still one of the most talented actors and comedians working today. The series also features extremely relevant social commentary that elevates the title and firmly situates it as a must watch comedy in this new age.