Loren Bouchard is the creator behind the fan favorite show, Bob’s Burgers. Throughout the series’ 10 seasons, music has played an important role with a myriad of original songs and a special musical episode for the season nine premiere. That’s why it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Bouchard go all in in the genre. His latest project, Central Park, is an entertaining animated musical comedy.
Central Park follows the Tillerman Family who reside in the titular area. The patriarch, Owen, is the park manager and oversees its regular maintenance and every day activities. His wife, Paige, is a journalist seeking more prestigious stories rather than the puff pieces she regularly writes. Their children are Molly and Cole. They all come into conflict with hotel heiress, Bitsy Brandenham, and her assistant, Helen, as they scheme to purchase the park and develop it into condos.
The writing is well done with a good mix of both immature and smart jokes. You can have a scene with witty banter between Molly and her mom followed by another that references facial cream made from whale anus. Each episode can stand alone and takes a look at a common place activity related to the park such as street performers, waste management or high society private parties. But there are elements that tie in with the overarching story. There are also intriguing developments that come along and it is compelling to watch Bitsy’s diabolical scheme unfold.
The animation works well with the musical format. It seamlessly transitions into the musical numbers and can frame the scenes rather nicely. There are definitely artsy sequences containing costume changes, choreography and even some sparkles. As equally effective are the scenes that play to the comedy. Central Park’s aesthetic, which is similar to Bob’s Burgers, adds to the humor during numbers when the background characters break into dance. It is so hilarious to watch sanitation workers perform classically trained moves without any of the grace.
Central Park assembles a talented group for its cast with many that can act just as well as they can sing. It helps when some of their previous projects include Frozen and award-winning runs in Hamilton. As much as the whole cast does a great job, Tituss Burgess’ portrayal of Cole specifically stands out. He instills a lot of innocence and heart in such a sweet little boy. Plus, he can really hit those high notes.
Obviously, songs play a big part of the series and it incorporates a wide variety of styles from traditional Broadway to funk, rock and hip hop. An eclectic musical selection requires a diverse group of people behind it. Central Park enlists songwriters that have worked for Disney, released mixtapes, and are even some pop stars. There are definitely a few songs that are infectiously catchy and there’s a certain charm hearing two seasoned Broadway performers sing about picking up dog poop.
Central Park is a delightful musical comedy with a brilliant cast, amusing songs and an interesting premise and story. It is set to premiere May 29, on Apple TV+ with the first two episodes. Watch the trailer here.
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