Released this week on DVD, The Spoils Before Dying is a six-episode miniseries which is a follow-up to Eric Jonrosh’s (Will Ferrell) bestselling novel The Spoils of Babylon. Of course, Jonrosh is a complete concoction and Ferrell infuses the pretentious and hedonistic scribe with Orson Welles-ish flourishes.
Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) is principled jazz musician Rock Banyon (he refuses to cut an album with strings!) whose part-time lover Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph) is murdered. Fearful that he’ll be framed for the killing, Rock escapes to Mexico and reunites with singer Delores DeWinter (Kristen Wiig), a woman who still holds a torch for our resident protagonist.
With just 72 hours to clear his name, Rock must find the true killer before he’s sent to the electric chair. Unfortunately, his life is in constant danger thanks to a mysterious man (a hilarious and deadpan Chin Han, who sports a different accent each time he enters a scene) with seemingly bad intentions. Making matters worse is Rock’s manager Alistair (Haley Joel Osment, knowingly sporting a horrifically bad British accent) who continues to press him to make a commercially viable album.
Ferrell’s amusing riff on Welles tips the hand that The Spoils Before Dying is a humor laden ultimately loving homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age of filmmaking. With its jazz infused tones and Welles references, the miniseries conjures up memories of such classics as Touch of Evil and the underrated, Mexico set adventure The Big Steal.
Along with the project’s numerous cameos (including Jimmy Fallon, Emily Ratajkowski, and Berenice Marlohe), The Spoils Before Dying also proves that Kristen Wiig can carry a tune as witnessed by her performance of the aptly titled tune “Booze & Pills.”