‘The Pentaverate’: Mike Myers makes another multi-character showcase, and it’s not worthy
Comic loads on the prosthetics to play eight roles in a profoundly unfunny series of sex and poop jokes.
You might remember a scene from the 1993 Mike Myers comedy “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” in which Myers’ grumpy old Scotsman, Stuart MacKenzie, shares his favorite conspiracy belief:
“There’s a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as the Pentaverate, who run everything in the world. … [Its members include] the queen, the Vatican, the Gettys, the Rothschilds and Colonel Sanders before he [croaked]. ”
It’s a funny enough scene, for the 51 seconds it consumes—but now that throwaway gag from a nearly 30-year-old mixed bag of a comedy is the basis for an entire Netflix series, titled “The Pentaverate.” This is the first major, multiple-character project Myers has undertaken since the disastrous “The Love Guru” in 2008, which was a reminder that when Mike Myers is good (“Austin Powers,” “Wayne’s World,” “Shrek”), he’s comedy gold, and when he’s bad … well, we’re subjected to odious dreck such as “The Love Guru” and, unfortunately, “The Pentaverate.”
A six-episode series available now on Netflix.
Even with the Second City alum creating a myriad of prosthetics-laden comedic characters who are intermittently amusing, even with a few fairly clever Easter Eggs and meta jokes and callbacks to previous Mike Myers projects and some high-profile cameos, this is a decidedly flat and excessively juvenile series that wallows in a nonstop barrage of scatological humor and cheap, sexual-innuendo puns, e.g., a Toronto news station has the call letters CACA, as in ‘ca-ca’ as in poop, and a hotel is called “Big Dick’s Half Way Inn,” get it?
Got it. Eeesh.
Created by Myers (who co-writes with Roger Drew and Ed Dyson), directed by the skilled Tim Kirkby (“Veep,” “Fleabag,” “Brockmire”) and presented with first-rate production values indicating a sizable budget, “The Pentaverate” nevertheless feels forced and often profoundly unfunny. (It’s almost never a good sign when characters laugh at their own jokes or the one-liners delivered by others.)
In the opening episode, world-renowned nuclear physicist Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan-Michael Key) has been kidnapped and helicoptered to the secret lair of the Pentaverate, where he learns via a Rob Lowe-narrated training video that he’s to become the newest member of a powerful sect of a series of five men who have run the world since 1347.
Following the death of tech genius Jason Eccleston (Myers), Clark has been brought in to spearhead a plan to end global warming. He’ll join the remaining members of the Pentaverate, all played by Myers:
- Lord Lordington, the Pentaverate’s highest ranking member, who appears to be about 100 years old.
- Bruce Baldwin, a Murdoch-esque former media mogul from Australia who has a foot fetish.
- Mishu Ivanov, a menacing and creepy ex-oligarch from Russia.
- Shep Gordon, legendary rock ’n’ roll manager to Alice Cooper, Blondie, Pink Floyd, et al. (Note: Shep Gordon is a real person and the subject of a Myers-directed documentary.)
Clark learns his death has been faked—the media are reporting he succumbed while trying to execute the latest viral challenge, which involves one attempting to perform a certain act on oneself—and now he has a choice: Either join the Pentaverate, or die.
Meanwhile, the old-fashioned and recently laid-off Canadian television journalist Ken Scarborough (Myers), desperately trying to win back his job, drops in on the Canadian Conspiracy Convention, aka CanConCon, where he hears the video screen rantings of a far-right, Alex Jones-type radio host (Myers) and meets “New Hampshire’s No. 1 conspiracy theorist,” Anthony (Myers), who tells Ken about the Pentaverate.
It all seems too outlandish to even consider, but Ken has nothing to lose, so he and his loyal assistant Reilly (the charming Lydia West) accompany Anthony on a quest to uncover the supposed headquarters of the Pentaverate in New York. Ken fakes his way into becoming a member of the Pentaverate’s Liechtenstein Guard, just as the secret organization is reeling from a murder within their ranks, or maybe two murders and counting. It hardly matters.
With narrator Jeremy Irons cajoling us not to skip the Intro to each episode because it contains valuable information, we’re introduced to a variety of wacky characters, e.g., a wildly over-the-top Ken Jeong as Skip Cho, a casino mogul and an expert on the chaos theory of weather patterns, and we’re peppered with pop culture jokes referencing the likes of “Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Golden Girls,” Gwyneth Paltrow, “Face/Off,” “Stranger Things,” Beyonce, Kanye, etc., etc., while learning the moon landing really was faked, and by the way, Sasquatch is real and he’s a loyal guard dog of sorts at Pentaverate headquarters.
The adventure eventually takes us to Dubrovnik, Croatia, as Ken attempts to gain possession of a magic key known as the Parce Clavem, because the fate of the world or something hangs in the balance. The convoluted and goofy plot holds little or no interest and is basically just an excuse for some fish-in-a-barrel humor poking fun at conspiracy theorists and disinformation on the Internet—and the aforementioned and relentless barrage of uninspired jokes about flatulence, sexual organs, penetration, bodily functions, circumcision, vomiting, you get the idea.
The deeper we dive into “The Pentaverate,” the more depressing it gets.