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'The Spoils Before Dying': An amusing if uneven satire fronted by Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell in IFC's "The Spoils Before Dying."

Will Ferrell in IFC's "The Spoils Before Dying." Credit: IFC / Katrina Marcinowski

THE SHOW "The Spoils Before Dying," a six-part comedy miniseries

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday through Friday at 9 p.m. on IFC

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Intoxicated by his own self-proclaimed genius, or more likely just intoxicated at the time, Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell) long ago made an epic film about jazz, murder, love, cats..."the list goes on"...that was subsequently banned.

Reasons why it was banned, other than aesthetic, are unclear, but that film, titled "The Spoils Before Dying," has finally been released.

It's about 1950s jazz musician Rock Banyon (Michael Kenneth Williams, "Boardwalk Empire"), wrongly accused in the brutal slaying of his former lover, Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph). Squeezed by the cops, Banyon heads to Mexico, where he hooks up with another former lover, big band singer Dolores DeWinter (Kristen Wiig).

They have just three days to clear his name. (Haley Joel Osment, Michael Sheen, Molly Shannon, Tim Meadows, Lou Gossett Jr., Chris Parnell and Kate McKinnon are among the other stars).

This three-night "Funny or Die" miniseries -- if you have not yet guessed -- is a spoof, written by former "Saturday Night Live" writers Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele and produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay.

MY SAY Ferrell's Jonrosh is a hirsute hill of flesh -- full of wine, stories, regrets, baloney and, mostly, himself. Fans of "The Spoils of Babylon" -- Ferrell's 2014 IFC send-up of '70s miniseries like "The Thorn Birds" featuring his director alter ego -- know Jonrosh well. He bloviates about his films, which are all "masterpieces," while tippling away and shoveling in cheeseburgers. He's a funny character, but the really fun part is trying to figure out who he's really supposed to be -- Orson Welles in the "no wine before its time" phase of his career? Quentin Tarantino, circa 2035?

His latest "masterpiece," you also may suspect, is no masterpiece, but an upchuck of every cinematic fad and flourish from the '50s, mostly French New Wave. Think an unholy mash-up of "Breathless" and "Jules et Jim" with "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Touch of Evil."

As genre satire, "Spoils" is amusing. As film study, it's informative. As a viewing experience? Uneven: Sometimes funny, a little more often not.

The master himself is actually insightful on this point: "['Spoils'] drags quite a bit," Jonrosh says. "I was interested in boring my audience at that time. I still am."

BOTTOM LINE Jonrosh strikes again. Still amusing, still indulgent.

GRADE B

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