After 17 years, comedy’s most famous fountain is finally switched back on and then off again for recording purposes in Friends: The Reunion AKA The One with Chandler’s Teeth.
Part interview, part blooper reel and part 1970s-style variety show, the long-awaited Friends reunited is surprisingly worthwhile. What could easily have been the same old anecdotes trotted out in front of a smug-looking James Corden is more like genuine insight in front of a smug-looking James Corden, not so much into the production but the importance of the show for the cast themselves.
Recreating iconic sets and scenes proves highly emotional for the actors, whose performances on the sitcom transcended chemistry and entered the realm of alchemy. What’s surprising in an industry infamous for its egos and rivalries is the authenticity of their love for one another, light-years away from the notorious relationships of Star Trek: The Original Series.
The show covers so much ground in 100 minutes that it’s easier to note what doesn’t happen: we don’t see Mike, Estelle or Ursula, Emily doesn’t burst in and scold Jennifer Aniston for hugging David Schwimmer, and nobody mentions ill-fated spinoff Joey. Everyone else gets their 15 seconds, including Janice, Gunther and Joey’s identical hand twin from The One Where They Ran Out of Ideas.
We learn why the classic bottle episode The One Where No One’s Ready took weeks to film, that David Schwimmer hated working with Marcel the monkey, and which character Malala Yousafzai most closely resembles: Joey, obviously. Non-Friends guest stars such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga appear in ridiculous filler sequences, and we hear how the show touched people’s lives around the world.
Ultimately though this reunion belongs to the cast and it’s a joy to see their ability to make each other laugh, cry and cry laughing is undiminished, in both a testament to their unique bond and vindication of their plastic surgeons.