A couple months ago, thanks to the power of Facebook and nostalgia, I met up with a few guys I grew up with but hadn’t seen in nearly ten years.
Situations like those are always nerve-wracking because you never know what kind of people they may have become or what kind of baggage was picked up or dropped off along the way. Fortunately, well-adjusted heads and our shared escapes from the hometown provided common ground where, otherwise, there may have been little. But to say that some folks don’t age so gracefully would be an incredible understatement and I’m glad it was these two fellas I met up with instead of randomly running into some Wooderson-type from back in the day.
The stop-and-chat with a long lost/forgotten friend is a fear laying dormant in far too many of us as we go about our daily business and the longer it sleeps the more insidious it can become.
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The two gentlemen behind Old Friends – Tim Curcio and Nick Ross (from Park Bench) – have taken this fear and, like good comedians, turned it into something clever to distract the rest of us, lest we begin to dwell on that nightmarish moment when we encounter on the street someone we’d rather not ever see. Here we watch as Tim gets sucked into the smarmy vortex that is Nick. Politeness quickly turns curt as Nick’s drill bit personality bores itself into Tim’s previously happy life.
The look of disgust on Tim’s face as the two pass in during the opening sequence is priceless enough, but that initial reaction seems to take on a life of its own as the series progresses. Nick relishes the power he has over his “old friend” and enjoys watching him squirm.
I squirmed right along with Time and the deeper things got, the more visceral the reaction to Nick’s mere presence. It’s not that hard to make an audience dislike a character, but to identify so physically with Nick’s plight is taking things to another level entirely. Don’t be surprised at all when your mind begins to wander back to high school and images of old douchebags invade your vision. It will happen, just prepare yourself.
Tim – much like his doppelganger, Ben Stiller – is not a particularly sympathetic character in his own right. He clearly has issues that he should have long since gotten over and harbors a bit of a jealous streak regarding his high school-sweetheart wife (played by the fetching Amy Flanagan). Still, you have to feel for the guy. When Nick continues to make his presence felt in the most questionable scenarios, one begins to wonder if it’s just crap luck or if he’s really a calculating stalker.
At the moment, you can catch three episodes of Old Friends. You should. It’s not necessarily the most laugh out loud comedy you’ll see, but the series definitely has quality moments and the subject matter touches a nerve, particularly amongst those of us who just may have a certain reunion looming over their heads.