Review by Sean Boelman
The world has a strange fascination with failure, turning many tragic falls from grace into circus-like comedies of errors. The new Apple TV+ series WeCrashed tells the messy story of coworking company WeWork in a way that is just as messy, although there’s no doubt it is an entertaining watch.
The film tells the story of Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork, once considered to be one of the world’s most valuable startups before oversight issues caused it to become a laughing stock. It’s a story that is well documented — and even had another project about it debut at last year’s SXSW — and it’s a perfect fit for this type of white collar dramedy.
That said, the approach that this film takes to its characters can be frustrating at times. Neumann is portrayed as a bit of a self-centered jerk, and that makes it difficult to connect with him. It definitely doesn’t help that Jared Leto’s performance goes all-in on the detached and selfish side of the story.
Anne Hathaway also gives a shockingly bad performance as Neumann’s wife. She’s very talented, so it’s a bit baffling to see her give a turn that is so artificial. It’s clear that the filmmakers wanted to emphasize the character’s insincerity, but it feels even more fake than that. The accent she uses is horribly distracting.
Maybe the biggest sin committed by the show is that it doesn’t take a firm stance on the characters, nor does it thrive in the moral ambiguity. Are we supposed to hate Neumann because of his selfishness, or be angry at his opposers for not believing in him? In fact, most of the major players aren’t all that likable, except for Kyle Marvin’s Miguel McKelvey.
The series is eight episodes long, and it really has no reason to be that stretched out. This story easily could have been shortened into a tight six episodes if some of the stuff about the characters’ personal lives had been cut. Yet despite the fact that the series is frequently a mess, it’s consistently entertaining to watch.
There are also some portions of the show which are much more ambitious than others. A lot of the show is boardroom scenes (albeit not in a traditional boardroom because that wouldn’t make sense for WeWork), but then there are montages which are much more stylistic. It would have been nice to see the show take this more stylized approach as a whole.
Perhaps fittingly, the WeCrashed series is full of ups and downs. With lackluster performances, uneven scripting, and some occasionally interesting aesthetic choices, it nonetheless overcomes its flaws to be a pretty solid guilty pleasure.
WeCrashed screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival, which runs March 11-19. All eight episodes reviewed.