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Uncoupled review: Neil Patrick Harris charms in this otherwise shallow comedy

Neil Patrick Harris plays New York estate agent Michael (Picture: Netflix)

Neil Patrick Harris is so effortlessly charming, so darn huggable in his new comedy drama Uncoupled that it’s easy to neck it all down in one like a strawberry smoothie.

Then you burp and think, um, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Because what Uncoupled is trying to do is take a potentially heartbreaking situation and milk it for sly laughs.

We first meet New York estate agent Michael (Harris) being giddy with excitement planning a surprise 50th birthday party for Colin, his partner, or bff as he calls him, of 17 years.

They are, he thinks, the perfect couple: gym toned, successful, sexually compatible.

And then, on the eve of the surprise party, Colin walks out on Michael. Is it a mid-life crisis? Is he tired of Michael’s upbeat prattle? Or is it just a handy plot device?

After his partner of 17 years walks out on him, Michael’s got to navigate life as an aging single gay man (Picture: Netflix)
Michael’s efforts to prove his youth including spontaneous sex with cute strangers (Picture: Netflix)

For much of Uncoupled, despite Harris’s best (and yes, charming) efforts, it feels very much like option three.

Darren Star, he of the feather-light Emily In Paris, is co-writer here, so it’s no surprise that rather than explore the emotional undercurrents behind Michael and Colin’s break-up much of Uncoupled skims breezily and not that wittily over the surface as Michael is saddled with every gay anxiety cliché in the book.

He’s frets about ageing, he dithers over Grindr, he has spontaneous sex to prove he’s still got it (and yes, Mr Harris you have).

But though the story pinballs between how Michael would react to being dumped – anger, grief, revenge – none of it feels quite real, a feeling that extends to the inner circle of Michael’s mates who are little more than sketchy stereotypes.

One of the multi-talented Harris’s other talents is magic tricks and the rabbit he pulls out of the hat here is to make us care about Michael at all, even though both the comedy and drama Uncoupled serves up feels second-hand – a slick yet shallow entertainment that could and should be so much more.

Streaming now on Netflix.

 


Credit: Source

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