Friends: The Reunion is the 104-minute special in which fans are taken on a feelgood walk down memory lane, revisiting the New York-based television show and reconnecting with the six pals and the actors who made them iconic.
Friends lead actors Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry are back on the sets of the neighbouring apartments and Central Perk, the local coffee shop. They also serve as the special edition’s executive producers.
They laugh and cry and keep their memories upbeat and frothy. This is only the second time all six have been together since the 10 season-long show folded up in 2004. The bloopers and clips from earlier episodes are hugely entertaining in a show designed to be shiny and happy with a tinge of reality in the form of the hunched-over and hardly-heard Matthew Perry.
Friends, which revolved around six friends in their twenties navigating life, was first broadcast in 1994. Creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman and executive producer Kevin Bright share details of the show’s genesis – it’s about a time in your life when friends are family – and the challenges of casting the principal parts of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey.
Directed by Ben Winston, the nostalgia special, also known as The One Where They Get Back Together, is out on Zee5. The documentary folds together a staged interview conducted by James Corden, table readings that are uncannily on point with the show’s original tone and rhythm, outtakes, dollops of reminiscences and a collection of guest appearances.
The guests include previous cast members such as Tom Selleck and Reese Witherspoon, fans (David Beckham, Malala Yousafzai, Justin Bieber as Spudnik) and performers such as Lady Gaga, who joins Kudrow in a rendition of Smelly Cat.
Apart from the warmth and fuzzy feelings, the nostalgia special has a few moments of truth that come from Matthew Perry, the one cast member whose career and life didn’t shift gears smoothly after Friends ended. There are shades of remorse and the acceptance that the shoot represented the best days of their lives. But the makers and James Corden skirt away from any hint of a reality check and revert to playfulness.
Friends: The Reunion is aimed at the avid fan who might be disappointed to hear that Kudrow reject the idea of a reboot or a Friends film, but will take great solace in observing the enduring chemistry and camaraderie between the former co-stars who are now just friends.