Only Murders in the Building Review: Only Hilarity on Upper West Side

Only Murders in the Building is a rarity in comedy, a New York comedy that leans into the New York-ness of it all to remind us all of the glamour of New York City, particularly the Upper West Side. It's exactly the kind of myth New York likes to have about itself, and it wants us all to join in. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez play residents of an elite, bourg-y Upper West Side apartment building, the type that people fantasize about living in if they ever earned enough money. Their staid everyday routines are disrupted when a haughty young neighbour is murdered. The three mismatched neighbours have come together and bond through their addiction to a true-crime podcast hosted by Tina Fey who has become more brand than human, and decide to solve the murder… and launch their own podcast. Hijinks – and Sting – ensue.

Only Murders in the Building: Only Hilarity in the Upper West Side
"Only Murders in the Building" key graphic, Hulu

Only Murders in the Building is what you get if a bunch of New Yorker cartoons became a TV series. The comedy and satire have a particularly gentle and whimsical quality you find in The New Yorker magazine, a gently cutting, knowing vibe that lets readers feel like they're in on the joke. It's a uniquely New York City attitude, a little bit snobby, a little silly, somewhat self-deprecating and ultimately well-meaning. Bumbling amateur detectives trying to solve a murder is the perfect vehicle for satire and silly comedy with surprisingly emotional weight.

Each detective in our intrepid trio hides a secret wound: Martin plays a washed-up actor still fixated on his glory days on a short-lived detective TV show mostly remembered by parents and grandparents who are dying out. Short plays a washed-up theatrical producer whose mad ideas cost his financiers so much money he's considered poison and now risks losing his apartment that he's clinging onto as his last status symbol. Gomez plays a millennial whose dry wit hides a long-running wound and a secret she really doesn't want her fellow sleuths to find out. These 3 are lost, lonely souls whose greatest fear – aside from getting murdered – is to be forgotten, something shared by everyone in the building, hell, all of New York.

It's the kind of comedy that Woody Allen is famous for, only without his creepiness and sexism. It's more in touch with the present than anything Allen has done. The obsession with true crime podcasts gets an airing here as the detective trio's decision to turn their investigation into a podcast might end up biting them in the ass. A tenants meeting collapses into name-calling, the airing of petty grudges, name-dropping and the discovery that everyone actually hated the murdered neighbour – hell, an errant cat is more beloved than he ever was. Sting lives in the building and, being famous, of course, he becomes a suspect! In the end, it's a comedy with a gentle core, despite the nastiness the heroes encounter. Everyone is flawed, everyone has secrets, everyone has done something not-so-nice, but at its heart, it asks for and craves forgiveness and second chances… at least until they have to deal with what may or may not be actual Evil. Or was it all a misunderstanding all along?

Only Murders in the Building is streaming on Hulu.

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Only Hilarity in the Upper West Side
Review by Adi Tantimedh

8/10
Only Murders in the Building is a rarity in comedy, a New York comedy that leans into the New York-ness of it all to remind us all of the glamour of New York City, particularly the Upper West Side. It’s exactly the kind of myth New York likes to have about itself, and it wants us all to join in. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play residents of an elite, bourg-y Upper West Side apartment building, the type that people fantasize about living in if they ever earned enough money. Their staid everyday routines are disrupted when a haughty young neighbour is murdered. The three mismatched neighbours have come together and bond through their addiction to a true-crime podcast and decide to solve the murder… and launch their own podcast. Hijinks - and Sting - ensue.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.