‘The Afterparty’ skips through genres on the way to solving a witty murder mystery

In the clever, all-star Apple TV+ series, each episode is shot in a different style suited to the suspect.

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Tiffany Haddish plays the detective interviewing suspects about the death of their former classmate on “The Afterparty.”

Apple TV+

We’re all stars in our own movie.

You might have heard that one before — the notion that while you’re the lead in the film of YOUR life, you’re a mere supporting player in the worlds of your friends and loved ones, and you’re just a background extra to that stranger on the train or the person sitting two rows behind you at the ballgame.

‘The Afterparty’

Untitled

Three episodes available Friday on Apple TV+, with a new episode premiering weekly on future Fridays. The first episode is available to non-subscribers on YouTube.

In the clever, breezy and darkly funny comedic murder mystery series “The Afterparty,” Tiffany Haddish’s Detective Danner rounds up a cadre of suspects, a la Agatha Christie, and we hear their versions of events, “Rashomon” style, as Danner wants to climb inside what she calls everyone’s “mind movie.” Heck, she even brought a bag of popcorn to the investigation, the better to enjoy their respective biopics.

With the first three episodes dropping on Jan. 28 on Apple TV+ and subsequent chapters arriving every Friday for five more weeks, “The Afterparty” is a genre-bending trip from the creative mind of Christopher Miller (“The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), who has assembled an all-star comedy cast including Haddish, Ilana Glazer, Dave Franco, Zoe Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz and Sam Richardson, with each of their characters given the opportunity to be the lead in the movie of their lives. Each episode is shot in the style of a different genre — horror film, high school comedy, action film, animated adventure, rom-com — to reflect the worldviews and personalities of the various characters.

“The Afterparty” kicks off at a 15-year high school reunion — and the subsequent afterparty, hosted by Dave Franco’s Xavier aka X, who has become a huge pop star (and a huge tool) and winds up falling (or being pushed) out of a second-story balcony and landing with a fatal splat on the rocks below. X is dead. Dead dead dead.

Ah, but who killed X? Let’s meet the primary suspects as they show up at the reunion, each with an agenda. Lovable nerd Aniq (Sam Richardson) is finally going to reveal his true feelings to his former chemistry class partner Zoe (Zoe Chao), who has recently split from her macho, ultra-possessive husband Brett (Ike Barinholtz). Class valedictorian Chelsea (Ilana Grazer), who everyone thinks is crazy due to a scandalous videotaped misunderstanding in high school, is seeking revenge on Xavier, who threw Chelsea under the bus that fateful night. In the intervening 15 years, the dorky Xavier reinvented himself and had become a major crossover pop star with hit songs such as “X Marks the G Spot” and starring roles in films such as “The Hungry Hungry Hippos Movie.” He even secured a People’s Choice Award nomination for his portrayal of Daryl Hall alongside Channing Tatum’s John Oates in the musical biopic “Private Eyes,” bahahaha.

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In a “Hamilton”-esque musical, pop star wannabe Yasper (Ben Schwartz) tells his version of events.

Apple TV+

Then there’s Yasper (Ben Schwartz), who installs audio/video equipment in homes but still hopes to make it as a recording artist. You see, Yasper was in a ska band with Xavier back in the day, made the unfortunate decision to dump his bandmate and is now desperately hoping Xavier will “bless” his track and help him realize his dream of pop stardom. (“A perfect example is 50 Cent appeared on The Game’s first track,” explains Yasper. “It changed the game for The Game.”)

As Detective Danner interviews each potential suspect and they recount events from the reunion and the afterparty, the storytelling genre shifts to fit the persona of that particular interviewee, e.g., when it’s Yasper’s turn, we’re suddenly in a musical, with Yasper taking the lead on a “Hamilton”-esque number titled, “We All Get One Shot … Twice.”

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A tire-squealing action film is the genre as macho idiot Brett (Ike Barinholtz) tells his story.

Apple TV+

Eric Stoltz couldn’t go back in time and get rehired

As Marty in ‘Back to the Future’ after he was fired

But then he got a cool supporting role in ‘Pulp Fiction’

And now he’s a sought-after director of television!

We all get one shot … twice

We all get one shot … twice

It’s absolutely ridiculous but it works, due largely to the fact Schwartz as Yasper is actually a talented rapper and he sells the cheerfully silly material. In other episodes, Aniq’s story plays out like a rom-com, while Chelsea’s version of events is told in classic horror movie style, and Brett’s mind-movie has him starring in a “Fast & Furious” style action film in which he races around in his muscle car and keeps talking about how there’s nothing more important than family — even as he endangers his young daughter’s life by having her in the backseat of that car as he roars through town. What a fantastic idiot!

Some techniques play out better than others; Zoe’s 2D animated story is a swing and miss. On balance, though, “The Afterparty” is a witty satirical experiment so entertaining I’d be in favor a second season with a whole new reunion-murder.

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