I was a big fan of HBO’s sports mockumentary 7 Days in Hell, tackling the sport of tennis but now the guys behind that are back and this time their target is cycling. Cycling is an easy target and the trailer looked hilarious.
Synopsis: In 1982, during a dark and fictitious time in cycling history, the sport’s most venerable, time-honored race was marred by the doping of virtually all of its competitors. Riddled with nefarious characters, that year’s competition was a hornet’s nest of moral depravity. Through the perspective of five riders, TOUR DE PHARMACY gives an inside look into the grim realities of the darkest event in a sport notoriously tainted by controversy. (HBO)
Starring: Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, and Freddie Highmore
Writer: Murray Miller
Director: Jake Szymanski
Running Time: 39mins
As mentioned, the film is a mockumentary about a fictional 1982 Tour De France narrated by Jon Hamm. The race was nicknamed Tour De Pharmacy as it was revealed that all the competitors had been doping one way or another. This was the trend at the time and there were little to no repercussions. Through a funny turn of events, the race had been whittled down to five competitors: Marty Hass (Samberg), JuJu Peppi (Bloom), Adrian Baton (Highmore), Slim Robinson (Daveed Diggs), and Gustav Ditters (John Cena).
Over the course of the mockumentary, we watched their current day counterparts (Jeff Goldblum as Hass, Julia Ormond as Baton, Danny Glover as Robinson, and Dolph Lundgren as Ditters) talk about their experiences and all eventually let slip that they were doping. Notice that Peppi is missing in the present and Baton has a different gender. We learned that Peppi, an Italian rider, had died a hilarious death during the course of the race and that Baton, a French rider, was actually a woman dressed as a man and was not necessarily the best at it.
In terms of the other riders, Hass was a tone-deaf Nigerian rider much to the delight of his people, Robinson was an African-American rider who strived to be the first Black “whatever” to finally get out of the shadow of his uncle Jackie Robinson. Once the race got going, things definitely got crazy with an instance involving a water bottle and amphetamines and an animated short about blood cells being the standouts. Those were great but maybe the best running gag of the film was the use of Lance Armstrong as an anonymous former rider with a ubiquitous past who became less and less anonymous over time.
The acting was excellent across the board, past and present. The riders were great in the dramatizations with Highmore perhaps having the most complicated role of playing a French woman badly pretending to be a man. The interviews were great as well with the contrast between past and present being fun to watch especially as the riders’ present counterparts were all perfectly cast.
Overall, this was a great, hilarious, mockumentary short film with some smart writing and excellent performances. There were plenty more people that weren’t mentioned above but you’ll just have to see them for yourselves.