Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'The Bro Mitzvah': Wax on, wax off
A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I talk about my night with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young...
Once upon a time on "HIMYM," Barney Stinson was the outlier — the guy the rest of the group tolerated for reasons they couldn't entirely articulate, even as they kept trying to make him less of a pig. At a certain point (probably around the time of "Perfect Week"), the dynamic flipped — whether due to the overwhelming popularity of the character and Neil Patrick Harris, or simply because it was easier to write — so that the gang began celebrating Barney's antics, and coming down to his level rather than trying to bring him up to theirs. That's just one of many systemic problems with the show in its later years, but it's been really prominent this year with the focus on Barney and Robin's engagement, and last night with the gang massively punking Barney with the worst bachelor party in history.
So even though some of the individual elements of "The Bro Mitzvah" were amusing — most of them involving Ralph Macchio(*) doing a spot-on Barney impression, and then the reveal that Oscar Nominee William Zabka(**) had been under the clown makeup the whole time — the episode as a whole had the same unpleasant aura that so much of this season has had. Whether that was a genuinely terrible bachelor party or an elaborate prank of one, it wasn't a group I enjoyed spending time with the way I once did.
(*) Why does Macchio not work more? Outside of an extended stint on "Ugly Betty" a few years ago, virtually everything he's done since "My Cousin Vinny" has been in small indie films and/or roles where he satirizes himself. But he's always had charm and good comic timing (going all the way back to his kid actor days), and he's long past his baby face period where it was weird to see The Karate Kid being an adult. I'm surprised someone hasn't put him in a multi-cam sitcom pilot by now (though I know he popped up on one of TV Land's sitcoms last year).
(**) That the gang hired Macchio and not Zabka was a pretty blatant tell that this was all a scam, since Barney's monologue about how he views that film is so memorable. Also? Barney has a point about the crane kick to the face being illegal.
If we're trying to accentuate the positive, I did chuckle occasionally at Macchio and Zabka, at a few of Barney's mom's sex lectures, at Lily's crush on Ralph and on all the little Jewish details of the Brorah. And while Ted and Marshall's argument over who's more athletic wasn't in and of itself funny, it gives me an excuse to link to both this photo and article about Jason Segel having been on the same high school basketball team as trailblazing NBA player Jason Collins. (If the final season does not include a reference to Marshall being nicknamed "Dr. Dunk," I will be very disappointed.) This wasn't a good episode, but I did laugh more than I have at the last several.
But would Quinn want to be involved in anything Barney and Robin-related, even if Barney would be squirming for a few hours? And did the show really have to go to the same shot of a main character sitting forlorn on the curb outside his apartment building, especially since it wanted us to take the previous one with Ted seriously?
What did everybody else think? Were the jokes and "Karate Kid" references enough to carry the day, or did you also not enjoy the practical joke of it all?