Lately it seems that all great dramas must come equipped with creative wigs and historically appropriate shirt collars (see: The Americans, Downton Abbey). If that’s true for comedies, too, then The Spoils of Babylon should win an Emmy — or at least a very special award for Best Feathered Hairdo Worn by a Mannequin. introduced by Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell), who wrote the epic novel that inspired this mini-series, Spoils follows oil tycoon Jonas (Tim Robbins), daughter Cynthia (Kristen Wiig), and adopted son Devon (Tobey Maguire) through the decades as they slap faces, gaze at sunset vistas, sport retro styles that are tailor-made for frat boys’ Halloween costumes, and agonize over forbidden love. Yes, Devon has a crush on Cynthia, and in order to stay quasi-incest-free, he marries a plastic dummy (voiced by Carey Mulligan). it’s a sharp satire of ’80s pearl-clutchers like The Winds of War and The Thorn Birds, with Ferrell delivering a spot-on Orson Welles impression as Jonrosh, a self-important, wine-soaked buffoon. But even though the cast includes Val Kilmer, Jessica Alba, and secret comic genius Haley Joel Osment (who knew?), Spoils itself is more funny-weird than actually funny. the real laughs come from seeing so many famous people in absurd situations wax-ing nostalgic for the age of the melodrama, when the romance was good, the greenscreens were bad, and the fashion was even worse. B+
SCREAM AND SHOUT AND LET IT ALL OUT An all-star comedic cast stars in the 'period-piece' The Spoils of Babylon. (Katrina Marcinowski/IFC)
Genre: Comedy; Starring: Carey Mulligan, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins; Broadcaster: IFC
Posted January 16 2014 — 12:00 AM EST
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