Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend on Netflix is an interactive movie wrap up to the Netflix TV series which is as crazy, madcap and random as the TV series that preceded it. Also, the interactive film lets the audience make stupid decisions which cranks up the jokes and definitely works better for fans who have watched the series. But it is a fun interactive experiment that can work for newbies which is certainly more rewatchable than the good but dour Black Mirror: Bandersnatch interactive special. Digging into alternate versions of outcomes is what makes Kimmy vs. The Reverend very entertaining, eventually supplying a shockingly truly dramatic final confrontation between the two title characters. Assuming one doesn’t just choose to callously blow up the Reverend with a rocket launcher which, to be fair, is also in its own way very satisfying.
Years ago, Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) and three other “Mole Women” were trapped in a bunker by Reverend Wayne (John Hamm) but Kimmy has taken her life back and is now ready to get married to a distant prince for the Royal crown, Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe). A recent discovery of a Chose Your Own Adventure paperback novel makes Kimmy confront the Reverend, bringing along her best friend, Titus (Tituss Burgess), even though he has to shoot an action movie much to the consternation of his agent Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski). While Frederick is stuck back in New York with Kimmy’s wacky former landlord Lillian (Carol Kane) and agitated about his upcoming marriage, Kimmy learns a tarrying truth from Reverend Wayne, there is another bunker with more Mole Women and Kimmy has to find them.
The backstory of Kimmy and the Reverend is from the series pilot episode that gets minimal reference here which is a bit of a letdown since so much of the dramatic power of the final scene between Kimmy and the Reverend is based upon that relationship. There are a lot different endings in the movie however whenever the “incorrect” one is selected the viewer is wound back to that choice point until reaching the final “correct” ending. What’s interesting is on the 2nd viewing, selecting the same “wrong” option again leads to more different endings, which rewards rewatching. Taking Titus on the trip is the “correct” option, which is great because he is a hilarious counterpoint to Kimmy, but if Kimmy selects Jaqueline things get rather messy quickly.
Jaqueline’s plotline varies the most upon each viewing, either she spends time on set talking to the writer or she hides in Titus’ trailer, lying to a production assistant played with funny desperation by Heidi Gardner. There’s a happy way to end the story and an incredibly dark way which affects the final scene. Same for Lillian’s plotline about her hanging out with Kimmy’s fiancé, which can either have her spend a night with him or him spend a night with his childhood nanny, also amusingly played by the same actress.
Another really fun random choice is early on when Kimmy tries to call an old mole woman acquaintance and ends up stuck on an automated voice messaging service and listens to a Mexican restaurant themed version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by the spokesperson Taco Snake. The viewer can select to have Kimmy listen to the entire “Twelve Days of Christmas” song which takes forever as Kimmy goes from exuberant to exhausted to completely crazed. In another extended moment, at a bar Titus can sing Lynyrd Skynyrd epic “Free Bird” (him not knowing how to sing it leads to another disaster ending) and while the first time it happens it cuts away but on the 2nd viewing one can watch the full, awesomely bonkers performance.
The characters are really funny and exaggerated, much like a lot of co-creator Tina Fey’s work, people talk extremely fast with much quipping. Kemper as Kimmy has an inherently likable quality and her outsized reactions to moments are hilarious. Burgess’ Titus is the best at random snippy comments and a choice he has about either gorging himself on imaginary food banquet or helping Kimmy is strangely heartfelt. Hamm’s Reverend Wayne is a childish idiot who has done horrible stuff but his perpetually petulant attitude is uproarious.
Kane’s Lillian is probably the craziest out of all but she has a kind heart towards her fellow freaks, while Krakowski’s Jaqueline comes up with increasingly outlandish lies to cover up Titus’ disappearance. The new addition to the cast is Radcliffe’s Prince Frederick and his comments about his strange, aristocratic upbringing are really comical. Even though Frederick and Kimmy are separated for most of the movie, the chemistry between the two actors is solid, so much so that choosing early on for them to make out instead of planning the wedding leads to a satisfying, if abbreviated, ending. If one choses to have them make out again on a second watch, Titus berates the viewer for trying too hard.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend is a fun experience that is surprisingly deep and rewatchable. The character dynamics and tone may confound newcomers to the series but the interactive format makes it worth a look. It takes awhile to get to the happy ending because often having everything end in disaster is the funniest outcome.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
Director: Claire Scanlon
Starring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski