Review: Patton Oswalt dances with domestic bliss

Comedian's latest Netflix special finds him in his happy place

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

If comedy is pain transformed, what happens when the comedian is happy?

When the comic is a pro, the laughs keep coming, as they do in “Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything” on Netflix.

Patton Oswalt in "I Love Everything."

Realize, Oswalt’s last — and still best — standup special was called “Annihilation,” and it dealt with the sudden 2016 death of his wife Michelle. It was introspective, revealing and raw, the sort of career-defining set few comics ever achieve.

But since that time Oswalt has found love — with '80s child/teen movie star Meredith Salenger — and remarried. He is annihilated no more.

Thus “I Love Everything” turns away from the dark side. It’s somewhat telling that this set opens and closes with bits about breakfast. No bit about breakfast would fit in a show called “Annihilation.”

Oswalt starts out bemoaning the loss of the comfort cereal boxes of his youth with word puzzles and mazes on the back; now that he’s turned 50 the boxes proclaim health benefits instead of fun (“I’m eating cereal that tastes like an unpopular teenager’s poetry”).

And he closes with a long, hilarious, hallucinatory re-imagining of the characters on a Denny’s kids’ menu. Again, no one’s being annihilated at Denny’s.

In between Oswalt talks about oddball contractors working on his home, about missing a “Star Wars” event so he could attend his young daughter’s school art fair, about hiking – basically about being an American dad. He wisely brushes past Trump life with quick remarks about monkeys in a train crash.

This isn’t the brash, acid-tongued nerdy Patton Oswalt of the past, this is instead a more domesticated and content creature. Maybe he does indeed love everything. More power to him. Because apparently happiness does not preclude humor.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything'