Aside from one notable scene-stealer, the most interesting thing about Netflix’s The Cloverfield Paradox wasn’t the film itself, but its manner of release. That’s because the streaming giant decided to tease the film during the Super Bowl, then release it immediately after — without any prior notice. Netflix has surprised subscribers with similar last-minute releases before, with some shows going sans previews until mere months or weeks before they began to stream. The practice is still a somewhat ridiculous one, which is why it works so well for Chris Rock’s new comedy special, Tamborine.
Then again, everything about Tamborine is ridiculous. From the first teaser video that consisted of playerless tambourines to a subsequent video featuring characters from other Netflix originals reacting the ghostly instruments, the social media-driven rollout has been absurd. Even when Netflix decided finally to reveal Rock’s attachment to the project, they did so not with footage from the actual comedy special, but with the same teaser — plus Rock’s name and a release date. (Even the first teaser for Dave Chappelle’s Netflix debut included the man himself.)
And that’s just the marketing. When the Bo Burnham-directed special begins, it doesn’t copy Rock’s previous specials by revealing a cheering audience as he enters the stage and begins his set. Similar to Burnham’s previous directorial effort — Jerrod Carmichael’s 8, which began with another steady zooming shot — Tamborine opens with a slow zoom in on the back of Rock’s head while he talks with friends in a crowded dressing room. Thundercat’s “Them Changes” plays in the background, and after a solid 40 seconds of music, background chatter, and Rock’s hairline, we finally get to see some comedy.