3 Best Movies to Watch by Jake Szymanski

Staff & contributors

This HBO mockumentary is part-pastiche of the mythologising sports documentary, part-zany comic creation of its own. Tour de Pharmacy tells the incredible untrue story of the 1982 Tour de France, the most chaotic iteration of the race that never happened. Of the original 170 cyclists, all but five were disqualified for bribing the deep-in-debt president of cycling’s governing body (Kevin Bacon), leaving only Italian-a sensation-a JuJu Peppi (Orlando Bloom); secret female racer Adrian Baton (Julia Ormond and Freddie Highmore); frustrated nephew of Jackie Robinson, Slim (Daveed Diggs); a roided-out Austrian (John Cena); and Marty Hass (Andy Samberg), a Nigerian cyclist despised by his country.

Tragedy, scandal, and surprising romance unfold across the documentary’s chronicling of the race’s 21 stages, with plenty of digressions along the way — from a riotous interview with the head of the sport’s anti-doping agency (played by Nathan Fielder) to an animated explanation of red and white cells that devolves into a surreally bloody civil war. The humor zooms between the high-brow (French New Wave references delivered by JJ Abrams) and the R-rated from scene to scene, making this breezy mockumentary a wild ride of its own.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, TV Movie

Actor: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Andy Samberg, Chris Romano, Chris Webber, Danny Glover, Daveed Diggs, Dolph Lundgren, Edgar Wright, Eric Nenninger, Eugenia Kuzmina, Freddie Highmore, J.J. Abrams, James Marsden, Jeff Goldblum, Joe Buck, John Cena, Jon Hamm, Julia Ormond, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Clash, Lance Armstrong, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, Myles Brewer, Nathan Fielder, Orlando Bloom, Phylicia Rashād, Rebecca Dayan, Russ Walko, Seth Morris, Will Forte

Director: Jake Szymanski

You don’t have to have seen a single game of tennis to enjoy this mockumentary about the longest match that (n)ever took place in the sport’s history. Andy Samberg plays Aaron Williams, the mullet-sporting adopted brother of Serena and Venus (whose family “reverse Blind-Sided” him) made immortal by his record-smashing, week-long battle with posh, dim-witted English prodigy Charles Poole (Kit Harington) at Wimbledon. Things only get more riotously ridiculous from the premise: the team behind sports spoof Tour de Pharmacy chronicle the winding journeys the rivals took to that climactic seven-day showdown, from forays into the world of innovative underwear design to stints in Swedish jails, by way of a surreal tangent into the storied faux-history of courtroom sketch art. Suffice it to say: the tennis isn’t really the point here.

Real-life figures from the sport (including Serena Williams and John McEnroe) ground the spoof in enough reality to make the zany humor pop, with the comedy coming from a very game Fred Armisen, Michael Sheen, Lena Dunham, Will Forte, and Howie Mandel. With eccentric humor in spades — from the puerile to the surreal — and a lean runtime, 7 Days in Hell packs in as many dizzying jokes as Aaron and Charles do volleys in their absurd history-making rally.

Genre: Comedy, TV Movie

Actor: Andy Samberg, Chris Evert, Chris Romano, David Copperfield, Destiny Soria, Dolph Lundgren, Filip Hammar, Fred Armisen, Henrik Rutgersson, Howie Mandel, Jerry Gregorio, Jim Lampley, John McEnroe, Jon Hamm, June Squibb, Karen Gillan, Kit Harington, Lena Dunham, Lori Morkunas Jones, Ludwig Manukian, Lyssa Roberts, Mary Steenburgen, Michael Sheen, Serena Williams, Soledad O'Brien, Will Forte

Director: Jake Szymanski