| Times Herald-Record
Jason Sudeikis stars in “Ted Lasso,” streaming today on Apple TV+. A fish-out-of-water tale that was reportedly developed to help sell American viewers on Premier League Football (known here as soccer,), “Lasso” offers a tepid new variation on the old adage that America and Britain are two cultures divided by a common language.
Sudeikis is burdened by a character who barely qualifies as one-dimensional. A genial college football coach known for taking his Division II Kansas team from the cellar to a championship, Lasso is hired by Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), a beautiful but icy woman still seething from her husband’s infidelities. Having received ownership of his Premier League British football team in their messy divorce, she proceeds to fire its boorish coach and hire Lasso to replace him. On the surface, she praises his inspirational skills. But we soon learn that she fully hopes Lasso’s lack of knowledge of football rules, terminology and culture will utterly destroy the team, the “only thing her husband ever loved.”
Filled with gee-shucks enthusiasm and a naivete about the world and human nature that would make Gomer Pyle or Forrest Gump look like Machiavelli, Lasso grows tiresome rather quickly. Apparently, he’s never tasted tea, or sipped from “fizzy water,” and his only knowledge of London Bridge is from the nursery rhyme.
After Peacock’s “Intelligence” (with David Schwimmer), this is the second recent streaming comedy to revolve around Anglo-American culture clashes. Both engage in broad stereotyping and both feature U.K. comedian Nick Mohammed as an underling whose status is utterly transformed by a yank’s arrival.
We can all predict where “Lasso” will go. But I’m not going to stick around to see the innocent abroad melt everybody’s hearts. “Lasso” is neither believable nor funny.
— Also streaming on Apple TV+, the 2020 documentary “Boys State” examines an enduring institutional rite of passage. Every summer, the American Legion sponsors a gathering of student leaders from every state. This film covers a recent Texas Boys State.
Over the course of a week, male students engage in discussion and politics and form a government, elect local leaders, legislators and finally a boy governor who will be sent to “Boys Nation” held in Washington, D.C.
Bill Clinton attended Arkansas Boys State in 1963 and then Boys Nation, where he got to shake hands with President John F. Kennedy.
As you can imagine, the experience becomes intensely competitive and brings to the surface alpha-male behavior among young men who already consider themselves the biggest fish in their respective ponds. Add to that contemporary partisanship and a culture war mentality, and “Boys State” offers an interesting glance at “the leaders of tomorrow,” wrestling with today’s political culture.
I’ve long thought this subject would make for a good film. But I may be biased, as I attended New Jersey Boys State some decades back. Even then, I found the all-male atmosphere out of sync with political reality.
— Disney+ begins streaming “The One and Only Ivan,” a sentimental fantasy adaptation of the children’s book by Katherine Applegate about a silverback gorilla taken from its jungle home to human captivity and circus life. The voices of Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito and Helen Mirren are among those providing voices to cute talking animals. Human characters are played by Ramon Rodriguez, Ariana Greenblatt and Bryan Cranston.
Also streaming, “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji,” debuts on Amazon Prime.
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
— “Much Ado About Nothing” is featured on “Great Performances” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-14, check local listings).
— A pension beef turns ugly on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
“The Greatest #AtHome Videos” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … “The Wall” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) … “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).