HBO and Andy Samburg’s Tour de Pharmacy uses its outstanding cast, particularly James Marsden, to deliver an hilarious pro-cycling doping farce.
If you did not at least like 2015’s 7 Days in Hell, then you need not apply to HBO’s newest sports mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy. Tour features much of the same cringe-inducing, “can’t believe they went there” comedy. For me, it works in spades. Tour de Pharmacy may fall slightly lower than the madcap 7 Days, but it still wildly entertains thanks to a stellar cast willing to go all the way.
Tour de Pharmacy follows the fictitious 1982 Tour de France, apparently riddled with doping. After a cyclist’s (hilarious) death, 90 percent of the contestants are banned from the competition, leaving four cyclists to compete for the championship. Andy Samberg, Freddie Highmore, Daveed Diggs, and John Cena play the remaining group.
Each has his moment, but for reasons I’ll leave you to discover, Freddie Highmore delivers incredibly well. My favorite performance, however, remains with James Marsden, playing a BBC broadcaster. A cyclist himself, he completely commits to the role in a way I’ve not seen since Disney’s Enchanted.
Personally, I remain mixed on Lance Armstrong’s extended cameo. Only mildly funny to begin with, the joke repeats multiple times through the special. Even at 40 minutes, his schtick wears thin, and it detracts from the more experienced comic actors. Still, it’s a marvel that Armstrong went anywhere near the property.
As with any comedy of this type, some jokes fall flat and some fly. I missed some of the more inspired jokes on the level of 7 Days‘ on-court sex scenes. Nothing in Tour touches that moment of inspired lunacy, and the overall project does have a more “thrown together” feeling to it. Still, there are several comic joys to behold thanks to a cast that completely delivers, even when the material doesn’t.
HBO’s Tour de Pharmacy airs Saturday night at 10pm ET.