The Aisle Steat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Curb Your Enthusiasm

I've been a fan of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" since season one. The show is consistently edgy and frequently hilarious. Creator/star Larry David has done a brilliant job of taking antisocial comedy to new levels, each year introducing a story arc that plays out over the course of the season."Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season" hits DVD on June 8, and it has the story arc everyone has been waiting for. The show has never been funnier.

For those uninitiated, "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David plays a fictionalized version of himself - a misanthrope with a penchant for saying and doing the exact wrong thing at precisely the wrong moment. In season six, his wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) got fed up with his self-absorption and left him. As season seven begins, Larry dreams up a way of getting her back: making the "Seinfeld" reunion the public has been clamoring for and giving aspiring actress Cheryl a key role. Of course, he first has to convince Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards to sign on.

The first half of the season finds Larry doing just that, while the second half has them staging the actual reunion show. The genius of this plot line is that the real Larry David gets to reunite the "Seinfeld" cast while simultaneously proving that a traditional "Seinfeld" reunion would be a terrible idea. The fictitious Larry, for example, crafts a contrived scenario in which George Costanza becomes a millionaire, only to lose his fortune after investing in one of Bernie Madoff's schemes. In other words, fans get all the pleasure of seeing the "Seinfeld" actors on the "Seinfeld" sets without having to slog through some disappointing attempt at recreating the magic.

Not every episode in season seven is exclusively about "Seinfeld." Some of them simply find Larry sticking his foot in his mouth repeatedly. There's a funny episode about a portly female assistant who wears a shirt that is too revealing, as well as an episode involving Larry's agent Jeff Greene (the great Jeff Garlin) carrying on an affair with a mentally ill woman. And yes, Michael Richards' infamous racist nightclub rant is even brought up for ridicule.

If "Seinfeld" was about nothing, then "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is about all the little nothings that completely bug the hell out of us. Larry David is fascinated by unwritten social rules, which his fictitious self repeatedly breaks. The show expresses things we all think but can't bring ourselves to say or do because of the inherent shame that comes from breaking those social rules. It is hilarious because it's so uncomfortable to watch.

There are many jokes in season seven about the "Seinfeld" finale and how so many people were disappointed in it. Well, Larry David gets the chance to rewrite that finale here. A few of the past season story arcs didn't seem like a natural fit (i.e. Larry starring in a Broadway run of "The Producers") but here he gets to have his cake and eat it too. And we get ten episodes of non-stop hilarity.

( out of four)

DVD Features:

"Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season" arrives on DVD June 8, from HBO Home Entertainment. There are four bonus features on the 2-disc set:

"The Seinfeld Reunion: It Could Only Happen on Curb..." is an interview with David and the "Seinfeld" stars. They talk about the paradox of the season - that it's a "Seinfeld" reunion without being a "Seinfeld" reunion. The actors are visibly amused at the idea that they've pulled off a reunion in such a non-traditional way, and it's fun to hear their joy in the accomplishment.

"Rebuilding the Seinfeld Sets" shows how the old sets were pulled from storage and reassembled for "Curb." Many of them were damaged or had pieces missing. In some cases, Larry David wanted updates (he felt strongly that Jerry would have modernized his furniture at some point). This segment takes us into the warehouses and gives us a glimpse into how the set designers put the puzzle pieces back together.

"Larry David as George Costanza" - One of the more memorable moments of season seven has Jason Alexander walking off the reunion and Larry David (on whom the George Costanza character was based) filling in. In this short segment, the cameras observe Alexander teaching David how to play Costanza. For real, not in the fictional world. This feature makes my head spin, and I love it for that.

"A Seinfeld moment on Curb" again brings together the "Seinfeld" cast to talk about working together after eleven years. It's clear that they relish the chance to be part of this "Curb" storyline.

All the bonus features are terrific, and the season itself is so funny that it deserves multiple viewings. In short, this is certain to be one of the best DVD sets of the year.