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'Life's Too Short' comes up a little short

By Jason Bogdan
On March 4, 2012

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant might not have invented the mockumentary genre, but he perfected it with the original UK version of "The Office." A flawless mesh of dry humor and comedic personalities in a stagnant atmosphere, it still remains the master of its influential craft. Unfortunately, their latest mockumentary piece, "Life's Too Short," isn't nearly as brilliant as their previous masterpiece. Despite this, Gervais and Merchant can still make laughs out of realism here.

"Life's Too Short" is focused around the fictional life of real-life actor, Warwick Davis. Referring to himself as "the UK's go-to dwarf," the series follows the man finding whatever acting jobs he can with his celebrity status while being an agent for other small person actors for organization "Dwarves for Hire." Throughout the first two episodes aired, Davis tries to make ends meet in various ways from relieving his role as a Ewok in a Star Wars-themed wedding to being a source of "inspiration" to Johnny Depp for a Rumplestiltskin film.

To enjoy the show without thinking it as a mean-spirited depiction of those with achondroplasia, it's best to keep in mind that Davis is actually one of the show's creators and even came up with the show's questionable title. The underlying strength of the show is that Warwick's optimism here is one where he doesn't let his disability hold him back; his goofy foils are primarily just him using his marginal celebrity status to sell autographs like so many others would.

That isn't to say this isn't a dark comedy to ease controversy. Rather, it pushes the boundary on the audience "taking the joke" with numerous, harshly awkward moments. Sadly, these uncomfortable moments are both plentiful and not funny at all, even ones that aren't based around Davis's disability. For example, Johnny Depp's egocentrically cruel persona might be just an act, but his lashing out at Gervais about the Golden Globe riffs are still unpleasant.

But are there moments that work? Absolutely. It's hard to imagine any sci-fi fan not roaring with hilarity when seeing Davis's Ewok costume at the themed wedding just being a hollowed-out stuffed bear. Liam Neeson painfully attempting comedy is one of the lengthy gags of the show that actually doesn't overstay its welcome. I should praise Warwick Davis's high-spirited performance here as well as both Gervais and Merchant's humorously melancholy cameos.

Ultimately though, the fact that this show only scores home runs from the jokes half the time makes it an average-at-best fare from what was seen so far.

Score: C

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