Amateur detectives and Hulu’s podcast neighbors who have already solved two murders “Only Murders in the Building” make a hat trick. The latest victim is the star of a Broadway play called “Death Rattle” and a selfish Hollywood actor played by Paul Rudd.
Directed by Oliver (Martin Short) on his triumphant return to the Great White Road, “Death Rattle” is a murder mystery. Of course This. The play’s protagonist moves forward towards the end of the first day of rehearsals, waving an inflated ego and a pile of Confidentiality Agreements for everyone to sign. He is best known for the “CoBro” movie series about “a friendly zoologist who transforms into a 6-foot-tall cobra and helps the cops save the day.” Is it a cobra? Yes. Is he a brother? Yes. “That’s how you make two bills, not with cunning – cunning doesn’t sell!” She informs Oliver, who is hoping to put on a more complex performance for the man’s Broadway debut.
Either way, it doesn’t matter, because he died after opening night. And the show’s producers — a wealthy Upper East Side type (Linda Emond) and her addicted adult son (Wesley Taylor) — are pulling the plug. But wait, Oliver has an idea to turn the moldy “Death Rattle” into a musical instead: “Death Rattle Dazzle” (jazz hands).
Emond has always been a great actor (and most recognizable from his appearances in various incarnations of “Law & Order”), but he was never given that kind of opportunity to really chew up some scenes, as he did here when Oliver tried to sell. him in the musical. As written, his monologue is richly observed and sarcastic, and so Right An exaggerated masterclass on what makes a Broadway musical a success, and its presentation, barely contained:
You need a performer, she tells Oliver. That’s how musicals make money. You need a song that’s so irresistible that it’s like “Debbie from Duluth, who was hooked the first time she heard it on girls’ night at the Calorie Pit, like a syringe shot straight down Broadway’s neck. And an addict does everything – anything — to get it fixed, or even take the middle seat of a redeye in New York City, where, for the low, low price of everything she owns, Debbie may finally have the privilege of sitting in the best back balcony seat in the entire country. see at the end HE show with HE The song that Duluth can’t stop screaming all over.”
That’s why he asks: “Do you have anything that good? Do you have it (dramatic pause) entertainer?”
Emond doesn’t have much to do for the rest of the season. But this speech is a demonstrator in itself.
As for the mystery at hand: Who killed the game’s original star? When he died (yes, in the building!), Jackie Hoffman’s grumpy, silly neighbor – who went through that? mischief twice already – it has the only line the moment deserves: “You must be kidding me (swearing).”
Before Rudd is exhausted, he plays the man so perfectly as a disturbing and ridiculous being that everyone in his orbit is a potential suspect. This includes a fellow actress played by Meryl Streep, an actress who eventually made her big break towards the end of her life, and is rewarded with her own lullaby in the musical. Streep’s presence is a departure from the show’s more desperate-looking celebrity cameos. past seasons. It doesn’t have a Broadway-quality sound, but it’s good enough and the number is legitimately terrific. “Joy Ride” actor Ashley Park (as a weak Gen Z influencer/actress) is a great fit. It gave me chills. I’m Debbie from Duluth!
The red herring is exposed and secrets are unraveled. But Oliver, Charles (Steve Martin) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) aren’t the close-knit trio they used to be. That warm grumpy friendship is still there. But for the most part, they’re each doing their own thing, and Mabel (who hasn’t developed much in character) is the only one determined to make the true crime podcast that brought them together in the first place.
Co-produced by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, “Only Murders in the Building” is one of the most watched series on television, thanks to composer Siddhartha Khosla, rivaling only “Succession.” But there is so much more this season because Oliver is writing a musical; The songs of “Death Rattle Dazzle” are courtesy of a Broadway mélange composed by stalwarts like Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul (Streep’s ballad “Look for the Light” was also written by Sara Bareilles).
The melancholic undertones of loneliness and regret and clumsy romantic ties have always fueled the series, along with the nurturing effects of new and old connections. This season, friendships have crumbled—or at least, not exactly front and center as they once were.
But Oliver remains a deeply moving figure. This may be one of the best performances of Short’s career, balancing so many ideas and tones at once. A very unexpected combination of oversized gestures and nuanced subtleties. Here’s an actor who can embody a lifetime of sadness and create a perfectly evaluated reaction shot the next moment.
True love is for the brave, and “Only Murders in the Building” pokes and pokes around the courage and fear that forever underlies this truth.
“Only Murders in the Building” Season 3 — 3 stars (out of 4)
Where to watch: Hulu
Nina Metz is a Tribune critic.