Blu-ray Review: The Opening Act

Made by - and about - stand-up comics (and starring many comics), this is good-natured fun.

By , Contributor
The Opening Act is a film made by, and made about, stand-up comedians. Starring comedian Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley, Crazy Rich Asians) and written/directed by comedian Steve Byrne, it's a charming film that's nearly impossible to dislike. Perhaps not plumbing the depths of the profession as far as it could, Byrne and company have nonetheless crafted a thoroughly entertaining peek into the life of an aspiring nightclub comic. And if you have even a passing interest in stand-up, you'll recognize tons of very funny people populating its cast.

Yang plays Will Chu, a young man born and raised on stand-up. Having watched tons of comedy performances with his dad, Will has followed his passion by getting his feet wet in the real world of stand-up. When fellow comic Quinn (Ken Jeong) lines up a promising emcee gig for Will, it seems his career is poised to take off. He'll host a weekend stand, introducing each act while working a few minutes of his own material for a larger audience than he ever before. Even though he hits it off with his temporary roommate, featured performer Chris Palmer (SNL's Alex Moffat), he keeps screwing up the intro for headliner Billy G (Cedric the Entertainer).

He also encounters a new hurdle: hecklers. Worried he's in over his head, Will is forced to contemplate whether or not quitting his day job (comic Bill Burr is his boss) to take this gig was a smart move. But when he's on point, Will is undeniably a funny, likable comedic presence. And for The Opening Act that's about it—not a lot of twists and turns, just a few days in the life of an upstart comic. The weakest point is Jen (Debby Ryan, who's fine but woefully underutilized), Will's girlfriend—basically nothing more than his cheerleader. Calling the character "perfunctory" would actually be a compliment.

But overall The Opening Act is amiable, laidback fun led by a casually likeable lead performance by Yang. Particularly revelatory is Moffat, who creates a character quite different than anything he's best known for on SNL (and he's consistently funny in Studio 8H to begin with).

The Blu-ray includes extended stand-up routines, a making of, and some additional interview bits with members of the cast. The Opening Act's reach never exceeds its grasp, winding up a perfectly agreeable 90 minutes of funny, sincere entertainment.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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