There were a lot of reasons to be excited for season three of Stranger Things. But don’t for a second tell me that one of the biggest of those reasons wasn’t Sheriff Jim Hopper, AKA David Harbour. Harbour is a house name at this point, known for rocking Hawaiian shirts as hard as Tom Selleck, for proving that a dad bod is a rad bod, and for a criminally underrated performance as Hellboy (yes, I said it. I am available for combat upon request). You’d think that, having given us so much in the past few summers, Harbour might have nothing left to surprise us. Enter Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein is part present-day mockumentary, part faked 80’s TV special. It follows a fictionalized David Harbour (played by himself), as he investigates the career of his classically-trained actor father, David Harbour Jr. (Confused? You’re supposed to be). Harbour seeks out his father’s associates to explore his father’s greatest work, a televised version of the (also fictional) play, Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein. We watch snippets of the play as Harbour asks tough questions about his father, uncovering startling truths about a man even more distant and tormented than he already knew.
If that sounds like an over-complicated plot to you, well, you’d be right. But the plot isn’t really what’s important in this 32-minute Netflix streaming special. In reality, this is just a chance for David Harbour to show off his weird, comedic chops. And for what it’s worth, it does a damn fine job of that. Harbour is hilarious as the character of his own father, a pompous and self-obsessed theater actor. In the show-within-a-show, he plays an upper-crust, Frasier Crane-esque Dr. Frankenstein who gives the same long monologues about acting that the man portraying him does. If you find yourself watching Stranger Things and for some unthinkable reason ever say, “I wish this Hopper guy was less serious,” then you’ll be quite pleased with this short.
What little of the special that exists outside of Harbour is fun as well. FMMF is presented as a televised stage play, so if you’ve ever seen one of those on PBS and wanted more.. you’ll like it. The mockumentary interviews with his dad’s associates are pretty fun too, with greats like Kate Berlant, Michael Lerner, and Alfred Molina playing complete sincerity in ridiculous situations. I came away feeling like everyone working on this project felt it was a fun little thing to do in between bigger gigs, and that made it fun for me too. The impetus behind this Netflix special seemed to be, “Why not?” and I’m into it.
I won’t lie, there’s not much to Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein. It’s a half-hour sketch at its core, with an offbeat sense of humor similar to Mr. Show or Documentary Now. Watch it if that’s your speed or if, like me, you are the perfect Venn Diagram of Horror Nerd, Theater Nerd, and Person Who Stays Inside During the Summer. Either way, you won’t regret watching it. Besides, what do you have to do that’s honestly more interesting than watching David Harbour be Orson Welles for half an hour?
For more reviews of the latest in horror streaming entertainment, make sure to check out this month’s Netflix Bloodstreams. If all this Harbour action has you thirsty for more Jim Hopper, don’t miss all of our coverage of Stranger Things Season 3, all of which we’re putting on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. And for all your horror movie reviews, news, and interviews, keep lurking at Nightmare on Film Street.