Critics’ Verdict: 'Friends: The Reunion' Is a Nostalgia Trip
The highly anticipated 'Friends: The Reunion' delivers what it promised with a poignant trip down memory lane.
Show: Friends: The Reunion
Director: Ben Winston
Cast: Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow
Excerpts from the international reviews of Friends: The Reunion-
David Schwimmer first, calm and thoughtful, noting original features and the spot “Jen and I had our first kiss”, followed by Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston (dissolving into happy tears), ebullient Matt LeBlanc (“What are you guys doing here!”), Courteney Cox (happily tearful too) and finally a nervy Matthew Perry (“Could you BE any later!” cries LeBlanc). One of the three main strands of the show sees them roaming around the set, swapping memories – they used to eat every meal together for the first couple of years, Cox used to write her lines on the apartment’s kitchen table – and stories. If a lot of them will already be known to fans, there remains a thrilling fascination to watching the Friends – the friends – reminisce, chat and play off each other with an easy, unfakeable camaraderie.Lucy Mangan, The Guardian
HBO Max’s Friends: The Reunion, a long-awaited unscripted gathering of the six stars of NBC’s Friends, is like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife — neither as circumstantially convenient as butter-spreading or as inevitably chaotic as turkey-carving. Director Ben Winston — fresh off the triumph of this spring’s partially quarantined Grammys — has approached the reunion as a series of games, performances and structured bits, a relentlessly busy 104 minutes that yield an impressive array of funny and emotional moments likely to generally, if not fully, satisfy many or even most dedicated fans.Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
The special is best when it revisits the old episodes (“The One With Ross’s Wedding,” “The One With Rachel’s Sister,” “The One With the Monkey”). The one brilliant stroke in this new show, aka “The One Where They Got Back Together,” is having the cast members do a table read of their old scripts; the original physical gestures and facial reactions come back to them through what seems like muscle memory. Throughout the reunion, there are some very genuine-seeming failures by certain performers to remember aspects of the shows that their co-stars recall quite clearly, and the collective, wobbly journey down Mortality Lane comes across as spontaneous and authentic.John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal
But “Friends: The Reunion” isn’t trying to be revealing, at least not about anything that thorny or unpleasant. It’s here to entertain, and to remind fans why they love the show (and that it’s now available to stream only on HBO Max). Digging in to its shortcomings would have made for a more interesting special, but it also wouldn’t have reflected the show itself, which largely left unpleasantries outside of its comically enormous apartments. “Friends” only ever tried to address a small slice of life; it’s not especially shocking that its long-awaited reunion special would do the same.Caroline Framke, Variety
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