7 Days in Hell (2015)

(On Cable TV, September 2015)  At 45 minutes, this HBO sports mockumentary barely qualifies as a feature film, but to its credit, it doesn’t try to outstay its welcome.  The joke seems simple enough: In 2000, two tennis players end up playing a seven-day match at Wimbledon.  But from a Very Serious introduction featuring a mixture of comedians and real-life sport personalities giving mock interviews (and being inspired by the real-life 2010 three-day Isner-Mahut Wimbledon match), 7 Days in Hell soon turns sillier and sillier, leaving reality far behind as it portrays fantasy portraits of Sweden, raunchy streakers, an aggressive Queen Elizabeth II and more deadly violence than you’d expect in tennis matches.  It’s not always even nor focused (there’s a curious diversion about Swedish courtroom cartoons that’s not unfunny, but seems completely out of place) but it’s decently amusing, even as it turns darker toward the end.  Andy Samberg is pretty good as a wild-man of tennis, while Kit Harrington has a remarkable turn as his dim-witted opponent.  Sports personalities such as Serena Williams and Jim Lampley (this is an HBO production after all) help blur the line between reality and mockumentary, but both John McEnroe and David Copperfield get a few good laughs on their own.  The absurdity of the humor is only topped by its crudeness, but it works and at 45 minutes 7 Days in Hell feels like something that will get a few more re-plays than longer traditional films.  Best of all; you don’t need to know much about tennis to enjoy it.

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