Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: ‘The Smiley Face’
I know there’s a lot of ladies reading this, so I’m going to start out with a question: Significant other aside, would you date/make out with Larry?
He doesn’t strike me as the world’s most gorgeous man (that would be guest star and People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” at least for 1986, Harry Hamlin), but he takes care of himself, might make you laugh, and, of course, he could dip his bald head in oil and rub it all over you body.
It doesn’t have anything to do with episode (well, Larry does date a curvaceous restaurant hostess), it’s just that after this one, Cheryl, Lucy Lawless, Gina Gershon’s character from season 4, and last week’s Palestinian women (and, to an extent, her sister), I’m curious if Mr. David is really God’s gift to women.
“The Smiley Face,” has a lot going for it with guest star Hamlin, the return of Larry’s assistant Antoinette (one of my favorite characters), and even some Lewis, but it’s one of those that seems more focused on the plotting than the humor.
I have no problem with predicted what’s going to happen the moment the storyline is introduced (the show has been on for 11 years)—when Hamlin appears as Larry’s new office neighbor and kindly asks for a kitchen cabinet to himself, you know what’s going to happen. When Antoinette comes back for one day after being out for three weeks to look after her dying father, you know what’s going to happen. Larry even hints at the predictability regarding his inevitable breakup with the hostess of one of his favorite places to eat.
Even the stuff that comes out of nowhere, like Larry taking on Antoinette’s mother as his personal secretary, his scuffle with Dr. Rivkin, and the titular smiley face, have a lot of potential, but all of them feel rushed and don’t deliver the kind of “everything-coming-together” satisfaction that Curb’s been able to make its standard. The smiley face is a visual gag, which is something that doesn’t tend to work well for Larry David (as opposed to, say, the Seinfeld episode when Jerry has to wear glasses to fool Lloyd Braun) because Larry usually shrugs it off—the dialogue Larry has with Antoinette’s mother, at a funeral no less, is much funnier.
It’s not a bad episode, it just feels that there could have been more. To go back to Antoinette, it was great to see her back, but her storyline could have been anyone’s, and watching it play out just made me wonder if the series could get more out of her character being the one person who knows all of Larry’s secrets. The same for Hamlin’s “Big Dog,” who also shows a lot of potential (the gold shark-tooth necklace was priceless), but, outside of a dynamite confrontation that’d make Tennessee Williams’ blush and ranks up there with the best of the series’ guest stars, Ted Danson and Bob Einstein included, the kitchen subplot peters out pretty anticlimactically. Granted, given last week’s installment, it’s a tough act to follow, it’s just not stellar.