Eastbound & Down Review

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Sometimes when you bring the thunder, you get lost in the storm


You've got to love a character who listens to their own motivational tapes, especially if they are sold under the title, You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In. Welcome to the world of disgraced former pro-baseball star Kenny Powers.

British TV screens are more than familiar with the cringe-comedy genre, where the central character is their own worst enemy: a certain hotelier, a certain chat-show host, a certain office manager. But dark humour never sat well with the nervous network planners of US telly; the darkest original characters you’d find on free-to-air were Homer Simpson, or Married With Children’s Al Bundy. Thank your chosen deity again then for cable, and HBO in particular.

If you’ve seen Danny McBride’s screen debut as Fred Simmons in The Foot Fist Way (and if you haven’t, you’ll want to after this), Eastbound & Down’s Kenny Powers is remarkably similar, at once an amplification of — and a journey deeper into — that same vaguely familiar American male psyche. He’s cocksure to the point of delusional, with a huge sense of self-importance and self-entitlement, a lot like Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy. No surprise, then, that Eastbound is the product of Gary Sanchez Productions — Ferrell’s company.

The big difference between Simmons and Powers, aside from the killer mullet, is that Powers did once have talent. A talent which has long since been squandered in a life of excess and steroid abuse, forcing him to return home with only his truck and his jet
ski — the last link to his former lifestyle, which he clings to like a security blanket.

Kindly taken in by his brother and reduced to taking a P. E.- teaching job at his old school, Kenny must face, in addition to his anger-management problems, his high-school sweetheart’s engagement to
the current principal, plus a range of other humiliations. Can he swallow his pride?

It’s crude, lewd and harsh, but also observed with merciless accuracy; a vision into one redneck’s self-created hell, pitched to teeth-gnashing perfection by McBride.