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FILM & TV

Friends: The Reunion - the good, the bad and the Corden

Words by Nathan Irvine

Friends reunited

Only the die-hard fans could start to watch Friends: The Reunion show without a little hesitance sneaking in. 17 years since quite possibly a perfect finale of one of the most-loved sitcoms ever, there was a danger that those happy memories of what happened to Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey would be shattered. But while the cast have been unable to escape Father Time - though it appears some tried through the wonders of modern medicine - this get together is actually heartwarming. It’s like a nice little jaunt down memory lane with some mates. Or should that be "Friends"?

The worst parts about Friends: The Reunion were the bits that were talked about the most - the celebrity appearances. They felt crowbarred in to an otherwise insightful peek behind the scenes of what went on beyond Central Perk.

Nobody needs to know that David Beckham sees himself as a cleaning-obsessed “Monica”. Or what K-pop sensation BTS favourite moments were. And whoever thought James Corden was needed here as a moderator, posing softball questions to a clearly bemused cast - “What was your favourite episode?” - had clearly misread the room. Justin Bieber shuffling around on a catwalk in Ross’s old “Spudnik” potato costume was a cringe yourself inside out moment.

Yet, away from all this nonsense, we get to see the real chemistry between the cast when they’re alone and just chatting about things that happened when the cameras weren’t rolling. Like finding out that Courtney Cox used to scribble lines down on the table in her fictional apartment… until Matt LeBlanc rubbed them all out. Or that, Joey dislocated his shoulder when diving in a scene and the writers had to find a way to allow him to wear a real life sling while filming. It was intriguing stuff.

PIVOT!

But just as these scenes pick up steam and you’re waiting for the next revelation, a grinning Corden appears again. He then gives much loved bit-part characters - Janice, Gunther, the Geller parents and the like - around 60 seconds of chat before abruptly segueing back to ask what Matthew Perry’s favourite cheese is. OK, so that last question didn’t happen, but the level of insight was on a par. It would've been nice to hear a bit more from the guests and how the show impacted their lives, but, well, that didn't happen.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. The people who put Friends: The Reunion together didn’t just want us older folk to tune in. They needed a pull for the younger generations that could well make them even more millions of dollars by becoming Friends fans and streaming it online. But with the mass market approach of getting Lady Gaga to sing Smelly Cat, they almost killed the core concept.

As it is, Friends: The Reunion is a good watch. Not only does it cover great moments from the show that will have you giggling like you did all those years ago, it also brings back happy memories of yesteryear on a personal note too. Well, it did for me anyway.

It was genuinely great to hear that the main cast stay in touch after all these years. And although Matthew Perry barely looks like the same person that brought Chandler to life, he has the best anecdote in the entire show. I'm paraphrasing, but as he recalls whenever any of the six bumped into each other at an event “That was the end of the party. And then it was just us discussing the good old days”. Ironically, if Friends: The Reunion was just that - the cast sitting around and talking about one of the greatest sitcoms around - it would’ve been even better.

Friends: The Reunion is streaming on OSN now

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