‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ – ‘Larry vs. Michael J. Fox’: Pissed or Parkinson’s?

A review of the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” finale coming up just as soon as I show you how to make a swastika…

I didn’t especially buy the conceit behind how Larry and Michael J. Fox got into their feud – based on what we know of Larry, he would have been the person who was annoyed at being shushed in a non-concert situation(*) – but the actual feud was brilliant.

(*) And it’s not like he needed to do it to have sex with Ana Gasteyer’s character, as she had made it clear that her playing was just supposed to be background music. (And they were already in the “every date ends with sex” stage of their relationship.)

All of Fox’s roles since his Parkinson’s diagnosis became public have gone out of their way to both explain his shaking and other twitches while giving his character a completely different condition, but here he and the show faced it head-on in the usual ballsy, tasteless, hilarious “Curb Your Enthusiasm” way. How exactly is Larry supposed to convince anyone that Michael J. Fox – both one of the most beloved TV stars of the last 30 years and a man waging a very public fight against a lousy, debilitating disease – is the one being the bully? He can’t, and he only seems more insane each time he tries.(**) Kudos to Fox for both agreeing to have some fun with a condition that’s usually anything but, and also for proving once again that even with the Parkinson’s, he still possesses all his old Alex P. Keaton/Marty McFly comedy skills. And even though it never, ever works for Larry David the TV character, the stink eye lie detector gag never fails to make me laugh.

(**) Leon eventually understands, but only because they live together and he can hear the klomping. And I loved his attempt to analyze a potential Larry/Fox fight: “That shaking shit might come in handy! I don’t even fucking know!” Keeping Leon around as Larry’s trans-continental (and then cross-continental) sidekick was one of the wisest decisions Larry David ever made.

The subplot with the extremely effeminate little boy was a bit more predictable – you knew that the kid was going to give someone a design with a swastika on it at the worst possible time – but the young actor really went for it, and I appreciated the show pushing the idea as far as they did. (“Get a life, Jews!”)  On the other hand, Jeff having to take a bullet for Suzy felt like a slightly underdeveloped C-story(***).

(***) Maybe they could have given it more time by cutting out the whole Mayor Bloomberg gag, which didn’t amount to much, given that Larry was still comfortably living in the building in the next scene, setting up a reprise of the excuse he gave Tessler that sent him to New York in the first place.  

Overall, though, it was a very funny end to what’s been an uneven but largely memorable season. Some episodes have been pretty bad, but this season also gave us “The Palestinian Chicken,” “The Vow of Silence” and “Mister Softee” (and other people seemed to like “The Bisexual” a lot more than I did), plus this one. Looking back, I wish the show had sent Larry off to New York much sooner, even if that meant less overall Funkhouser and Lewis. But I’ll take uneven “Curb” seasons for as long as Larry wants to keep making them(****), since the greatness is more than worth the bumpy and familiar outings.

(****) As always, we never know if Larry’s going to make another season until he says that he will, but it’s funny that this is the first season in a long time where the last scene didn’t make me think, “Boy, if the show never comes back, that’s a great series-ending moment right there.” Larry in Paris was funny (and conjures up images of Larry eventually having to relocate to Rome, then Athens, and eventually some corner of Siberia, all to get out of a series of charity events involving sick kids), but didn’t have the finality of Larry getting kicked out of Heaven, Larry becoming an honory Black, Larry and Cheryl watching the “Seinfeld” reunion, etc. 

What did everybody else think, of both the finale and the season? Do you want the show to continue, or do you feel like you’ve seen enough?