CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM 8.04 ‘The Smiley Face’

Larry David loses a kitchen, a girlfriend and possibly an assistant, which is all in a week's work for everyone's favorite social assassin.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "The Smiley Face"

Story By: Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Director: Jeff Schaffer


Last week's episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is still being touted as one of the best of the entire series. And it's true that "Palestinian Chicken" was one of the funniest episodes of "Curb" in years, which makes it extremely difficult for anything to follow that up. However, "The Smiley Face" is not without its charms.

When we rejoin Larry David, he's already moved on from his rabidly anti-Jewish girlfriend, Shara (Anne Bedian) and on to a new conquest named Heidi (Rebecca Creskoff), the gorgeous hostess of his favorite restaurant. Although all of Larry's friends agree that Heidi is beautiful, they warn him that once he inevitably breaks up with her, he'll never be able to eat there again. Of course, Larry is out to prove everyone wrong. Sure, he'll break up with Heidi, but he vows that he will continue to come to the restaurant.  

Over the course of the rest of the episode, Larry seems to be going out of his way to alienate Heidi; who initially does her best to put up with his idiosyncratic ways. Larry himself is put out when Heidi borrows $60 from him and never repays him. Any sane man of his obvious wealth would simply overlook that to maintain his relationship with Heidi. But not Larry! He insists that she pay him back and it ultimately does drive her away. Larry also managed to offend Heidi by responding to the news of her father's death two years ago with a resounding "huh."

Although Larry is right, there should be some kind of sorry window on condolences. Two years might be too soon though.

Larry's other problems this week stem from the absence of his assistant, Antoinette (Antoinette Spolar-Levine); who is at her father's bedside during his final days. Except the old man seems to be taking his time and doesn't appear to be leaving this world anytime soon. Meanwhile in a rare act of generosity, Larry agrees to give Dino (Harry Hamlin) — the new tenant in Larry's office building — access to a single cabinet in his kitchen over the warning of Jeff (Jeff Garlin). Even Antoinette's ailing father agrees that Larry shouldn't have given up the cabinet. And sure enough, Dino (aka Big Dog) takes two cabinets and crams all of Larry's food into a single cabinet.

Harry Hamlin was very amusing in his turn as Dino/Big Dog, who insisted that he was fair and that both cabinets were his simply because he put his name on both of them. Larry actually tries for an equitable solution of splitting the middle cabinet between them, but Big Dog refuses. Big Dog is actually a bigger dick than Larry himself and he even ends up locking Larry out of the kitchen completely.

To compound things even further, on the one day that Antoinette comes in to help Larry, her father finally dies without his daughter by his side, Also, Heidi left a sun screen smiley face on Larry's head as payback for treating her badly, humiliating him at the funeral for Antoinette's father. Prior to this, Larry had lied to Richard Lewis about being late because their dermatologist, Dr. Rivkin (Michael Gross) had made him wait. Although Dr. Rivkin is strangely focused on examining Larry's nearly naked form, he doesn't deserve it when Larry's lie begins costing him a lot of business. Even when Rivkin confronts Larry during the funeral procession, it ends up fueling the bad name that Larry has given him.

The one upside for Larry is that Antoinette's mother is a fantastic assistant when she fills in for her daughter. As Larry tries to figure out some way to fire Antoinette and hire her mother full time, it all blows up again when Susie (Susan Essman) catches Jeff hugging Antoinette's mother and believes that the two are having an affair.

When Larry finally decides to revisit his favorite restaurant over Heidi's objections, there's a great callback to a running gag about lying throughout the episode. And even Larry may be forced to admit that he can't eat where he sh***. 

One of the criticisms that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has been getting is that it is still giving us the same "Seinfeld" style of comedy without much in the way of new material. To a certain extent, that's true. But as long as the show is still funny, I don't care about that. "The Smiley Face" may not have been as hilarious as the previous episode, but Larry David and company still delivered another amusing show.

Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.