Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

A pandemic classic and a top-notch TV special from the king of self-reflexive comedy

The Very Best

8.4

Movie

United States of America
English
Comedy, Drama
2021
BO BURNHAM
Bo Burnham
87 min

TLDR

He really was healing the world with comedy.

What it's about

Comedian Bo Burnham directs and stars in a pandemic musical special in an attempt to survive this horrendous year, he just like us for real.

The take

A healthy mix of despair and self-deprecation has always been Bo Burnham's signature, but Inside takes it to the next level. It's a deconstructed film, rather than a simple one-night special; a one-man-show that constantly undercuts itself. Even more so, it sabotages its own immersive qualities and explores the depths of self-loathing by turning oneself into comedy material. Some may say, it's a classic move, but the pandemic reality and Burnham's unkempt look predispose us to embrace all the cringe (YouTube reactions), quirkiness, (the sock puppet), and frightening angst (suicide jokes) he puts forward. Emotional rawness and a polished DIY look fits the Netflix bill, but as far as the content goes, this one goes straight to the world heritage lockdown archives.

What stands out

Ten minutes in, Burnham addresses the audience, warning them this special will be "all over the place" and to, therefore, abandon all hope of smooth transitions. In yet another self-reflexive move, he summarizes the best feature of Inside: its editing. What makes the special particularly cinematic is the way he works with static takes of enclosed spaces—real lockdown vibes—and different camera angles to then stitch together the (doomed) illusion of spaciousness. With this simple trick that can also be seen as the essence of cinema, Burnham tries to break away from the confines of his own situation, while also utilizing the comedic potential of a hard cut halfway through a sentence, or a change of setting, mode, or tone. In any case, a stoppage and a restart provide temporary relief, which is what we all wanted during these dreadful times.

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