Witness the fall from grace of baseball superstar pitcher, Kenny Powers on “Eastbound and Down”. The 2 disc DVD made it’s way to stores on June 30th and it is all that I could hope for. As one of the biggest champions of Danny McBride, I urge you to get on board because he is so worth it. I foresee a Hollywood future with McBride’s mug all over the place, with his devil may care sexiness, penchant for southern quips and eloquent comedic execution.
Now for a little background on this HBO series. The episodes are continuations of each other so they are best viewed as a long 3 hour movie, and you will not be disappointed. The dark comedy was written by Danny McBride, Ben Best and Jody Hill, the trio from the dirty south that brought us “FootFist Way”,so expect a lot of darkness and a lot of raunchy goodness.
“Kenny Powers”, beautifully played by a mulleted McBride, becomes a 19 year old superstar pitcher in baseball, years pass and time is unkind. His arrogance, ruthless behavior, and hate filled demeanor are the nail in his coffin when he slowly begins to lose his pitching arm. After jumping from team to team he finds himself out of work, broke, drug addicted, and completely burned out. He is forced to return to his podunk hometown, where he rooms with his brother and his family. He takes a job at a local middle school as a P.E coach and runs into his former flame played by the fierce Katy Mixon. Slight problem, she is now engaged to the principal of the school and Kenny is not taking no for an answer. He trips over himself as he throws all his sexiness into the pursuit of her love.
Over the course of the 6 “chapters” or episodes, we watch Kenny decimate all the relationships around him while the supporting cast tugs on your heart strings with their sympathetic nature and goodwill. Katy Mixon is all moxy and sass as “April”, Kenny’s former high school sweetheart. Without the supporting cast coming through with just the right amount of self respect sand sympathy, Kenny would be an asshole surrounded by a bunch of enablers.
I think one of the best parts of the show is how unbelievably quotable each episode can be. Kenny says the absolute wrongest things to everyone he comes in contact with. Without spoilers, I can only mention his “on the reg” speech to the principal but it is improvised to perfection in the hands of McBride. He calls his portly blond nephew, “blond ambition tour” and I cried with laughter. While Eastbound is not riddled with pop culture references the little bits he throws out are fantastic.
Kenny will do the worst things and you will hate yourself for laughing as he blazes hate trails all around his hometown but McBride plays him with such panache and bravado that you slowly start to forgive him and his vast shortcomings. The second best part of “Eastbound..” are the guest stars. Expect great moments from Craig Robinson and Adam Scott, but it is Will Ferrell as “Ashley Schaffer” owner of Ashley Schaffer BMW who will affect you the most. His awkward white wig and his penchant for close talking will make you chuckle and get you nervous.
Kenny on his jetski (pictured above) should get it’s own spin off show, it’s so good. Don’t short yourself by skipping over the special features on disc 2. The gag reel and Kenny Powers motivational video are definitely among the highlights. The show has been renewed for another season but McBride has 5 films in development at the moment so there’s no telling when he’ll get the chance to sit down and write a follow up season to this HBO magnum opus. Three cheers for my favoritest guy of all time, Mr. McBride.