‘Mr. Corman’ review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt earns extra credit in this bittersweet Apple TV+ series

3 little words discuss Apple TELEVISION+’s interest in “Mr. Corman,” and those are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who produced, produces, composes, directs, stars and even carries out music in this melancholy series, raising an idea that takes a look at roadways not taken which’s stressed throughout by strange flights of fancy.

Gordon-Levitt’s Josh Corman is presented as a fifth-grade instructor, treading meticulously when dealing with his young charges. Gradually, nevertheless, it ends up being clear that he relied on mentor when goals to be an artist fizzled, which he’s quite well sleepwalking his method through life.

The facility does not make, undoubtedly, for an especially vibrant lead character. The best discovers Josh and his roommate/buddy Victor (Arturo Castro) choosing, after some dispute, to go to a club, however his uncomfortable encounter with a lady primarily highlights the “Those who can’t do, teach” element of his presence, which is to state that Josh is lost and dissatisfied, regardless of his blandly enjoyable attitude.

There is, in truth, a great deal of awkwardness along the method, consisting of Josh’s interactions with his mom (Debra Winger), and an ex-girlfriend (Juno Temple), who ultimately enters the story too.

The ugly tone sort of turns “Mr. Corman” into the anti-“Ted Lasso,” the second-year series that has actually won Apple a lot of acclaims. Yet the series is likewise susceptible to fantastical flights of fancy, like having Josh and his mother burst into a song-and-dance number, or unexpectedly take part in what appears like a superhero battle with his good friends.
Those kind of moments likewise forge a connection to the indie film “500 Days of Summer,” in which Gordon-Levitt starred, at least in terms of sensibilities, taking chances in reasonably inventive ways. One chapter hands the story over to Victor, whose character is grappling with a broken marriage and raising a teen who does little to hide her hostility toward him. Later, Covid enters the picture, forcing the title character to conduct his class and date via Zoom.

The idea of TV series indulging the creative whims of movie stars is hardly new, but Gordon-Levitt brings a level of ambition to the storytelling that isn’t just dabbling. That said, “Mr. Corman” represents a thin premise — the travails of thirtysomethings, after all, had an entire 1980s series devoted to it — so its charms almost entirely consist of small minutes and its protagonist’s thinly concealed angst.

Pencils down, the show earns a better-than-passing grade, delivering more satisfaction than the syllabus would suggest. Consider “Mr. Corman” one of those instances where Gordon-Levitt and company do enough extra-credit work to legitimately class up an otherwise basic course.

“Mr. Corman” premieres Aug. 6 on Apple TELEVISION+.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.