Sylvio (NR)

Comedy 80 min. November 10, 2017
By Danny King
A work of gentle whimsy and surprising pathos, Sylvio proposes a buddy-comedy scenario involving a most unlikely screen pair: Al Reynolds (Kentucker Audley), the meek host of a middling daytime talk show that he stages in his basement, and Sylvio (Albert Birney), a mild-mannered Baltimore gorilla holding down a job at a debt-collection agency. (He’s literally a gorilla, with Birney wearing a gorilla suit beneath his clothes.) Al's program, and Sylvio himself -- a character that Birney, who co-directed the movie with Audley, originated on the short-video platform Vine -- gain brief notoriety after an accidental cameo spurs a widespread demand for segments featuring Sylvio destroying household objects. (One clever tangent finds a local chandelier company initiating a sponsorship.)

But Sylvio’s true dreams as a creative are much more tranquil: His passion project is a series of hundreds of episodic shorts, presented under the name "The Quiet Times With Herbert Herpels," in which Sylvio shows the humble-looking hand puppet of the title enacting mundane tasks, like making toast. Birney and Audley have an impressive visual sense -- the smart framing and thrifty, ingenious production design (by Peter Davis) at times suggest a Wes Anderson–directed installment of Between Two Ferns -- and also the good sense to lean on Birney’s nuanced physical performance. Two generous shots lasting around 90 seconds depict Sylvio unwrapping a “Beefy-Boy” TV dinner and then attempting to switch on a light bulb, and are emblematic of the movie’s modest appeal: Birney plays the turn of the scene -- Sylvio throwing the lamp to the floor after the replacement bulb dies -- not as over-the-top absurdity but as a relatable expression of the strain of even the most boring aspects of everyday living.
Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney Sylvio Bernardi Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney, Meghan Doherty Factory 25

Watch the Trailer

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >