“The Curse” stars Fielder, the fearless comedian behind the “The Rehearsal,” as Asher Siegel, a New Mexico resident who is starring in and producing a new reality show with his wife Whitney Siegel (Emma Stone). They are presented as unforgettably in denial about their place in the world, the kind of people who proclaim themselves to be allies to the environment and the indigenous people of New Mexico, but only if it suits them. Take their new show, “Flipanthropy,” a program about the energy-saving homes built by Asher and Whitney that runs into one cultural and environmental issue after another. “Oppenheimer” star Safdie plays Dougie Schecter, the manipulative producer who knows that “Flipanthropy” is more likely to succeed with some gamesmanship, including driving wedges between Asher and Whitney that are remarkably easy to drive.
In the phenomenal premiere, Dougie convinces Asher to give money to a young girl in a parking lot named Nala (Hikmah Warsame) so they can get some good b-roll of him being generous. He only has a $100 bill, which he then tries to recover from Nala after the cameras stop rolling. Nala tells him that she is cursing him, leading to both an undercurrent of dread and one of distracting anxiety for Asher, who almost doesn’t notice as everything falls apart around him. When the Siegels cross paths with Nala again, they try desperately to make things up to her, which involves Barkhad Abdi as her father, and things get even weirder.
As usual, Fielder leans into his awkward persona, the kind of guy who never lands a joke and always says the wrong thing. In one amazing sequence, Asher gets kicked out of a comedy class for making too extreme jokes about the size of his penis, which he was basically bullied into making in a demonstration of self-deprecating humor. He’s incredibly uncomfortable in front of the camera, always finding the wrong joke that’s incredibly funny. (My favorite has to be the inane things Asher says on camera that he thinks are funny when trying to sell his houses, like “Your energy bill will be cheaper than my haircut.”) All of Fielder’s humor aims directly at Asher’s dull inadequacy, offset by the more aggressive personality of Safdie’s Dougie, the kind of guy who gets excited when he blows into his breathalyzer and barely registers under the limit. These people are excited to barely drive their way through life, and don’t care who they hit along the way.