“Insufficient Praise” takes aim at pampered Hollywood actors, professional criers, and sex dolls to reliably awkward effect, with a couple of big-name cameos for good measure.
This recap of Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10, Episode 5, “Insufficient Praise”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There are a couple of big-name cameos in Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10, Episode 5, but the most important guest star is a sex doll delivered to Larry David’s house that crops up again and again throughout “Insufficient Praise” in various states of inflation. News of the doll, presumably delivered to Larry as a prank, finds its way around the neighborhood in record time, in large part thanks to Jon Daly’s aggrieved mailman character: “The package said do not puncture, discreet delivery. Mailmen know.”
Lest we forget about the season’s on-going rivalry between Larry and Mocha Joe (Saverio Guerra), there are some developments at the spite store, including Larry’s revolutionary new urinal design which the hired plumber (Andrew Santino) looks suitably aghast at but builds anyway. There is to be absolutely no defecation in the building whatsoever, which doesn’t bode well for the place’s success, especially after Mocha Joe arrives with Ted Danson to let Larry know that his movie-star nemesis will be providing financial backing.
Clive Owen guest-stars as himself in “Insufficient Praise”; the episode’s title pertains to his opinion of Larry’s half-hearted voicemail congratulations after he and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) attend his one-man Castaway-style stage play. Jeff and Susie (Susie Essman) have a new housekeeper, Matilda (Natasha Perez), who’s trying to fill a Tuesday and Thursday opening. Larry fills it, which will typically turn out poorly for him over the course of Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10, Episode 5.
Vince Vaughn appears briefly as Freddie Funkhouser and gets a whole spiel about the value of sex dolls, while Larry opens Uncle Moke’s (Marmine Caridi) eyes to the pleasures of internet ****. This is about the only subplot in this week’s episode which actually turns out well for someone, but more on that in a bit.
At lunch with Richard Lewis, Larry is introduced to his new girlfriend Carol (Isla Fisher) and gets into an argument with other patrons about how cold it is. Doing the gentlemanly thing, Larry loans Carol his late mother’s mink stole, which prompts a tearful and dramatic story about Carol’s mother getting hit by a train. Moved, Larry says Carol can keep the stole, at which point Richard informs him that she’s a professional crier. Immediately assuming he has been fleeced, he wants the stole back. (Larry and Richard’s scenes always remain a highlight because they’re both so obviously on the verge of laughter throughout.)
When he returns home, Larry finds the sex doll not only blown up but sat on the couch with its arms invitingly open. He has no choice but to tell Matilda he collects them; this is a woman so sensitive that she’s no longer willing to work for Susie because of her foul mouth — thus freeing up her Monday and Wednesday slots which Larry agrees to take, despite having promised Susie he wouldn’t — so you just know how awkward it’s going to be when she learns a sex doll’s real purpose. But, again, more on that in a bit.
After an argument with Leon (JB Smoove) about whether or not he’s sleeping with the doll, Richard arrives to let Larry know that his attempts to retrieve the stole led to Carol dumping him. The bickering continues at Jeff and Susie’s, this time over Larry’s apparently temperature-proof dishwasher hands since Susie is fuming about Matilda not working for her anymore. She’s having to cater and clean herself, and to make matters worse, Clive Owen is coming over. Clive is furious with Larry over his lackluster voicemail and gets so precious about the insufficient praise over lunch that he ends up storming out.
The various subplots of Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10, Episode 5 begin to come together as we approach a conclusion. The mailman lets Ted Danson know about Larry’s sex doll, and Ted happily passes the news on to Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). Larry attempts to retrieve the stole from Carol and earns a slap for his trouble. Jeff is fretting about the upcoming reviews of Clive’s play since Larry’s questioning of why anyone would bother to put so much into a role has sent him into a tailspin; his performances are getting worse and nobody in the audience seems moved anymore. Larry recommends Carol, who Jeff hires to start a contagious cry in the audience. It proves a success, spurring Clive on, and he even meets her personally outside after the show, narrowly missing an argument between her and Larry — once again over the stole — that a police officer has to intervene in.
Back home, Leon still hasn’t deflated the sex doll. And since, as the saying goes, if you want a job doing properly you might as well do it yourself, Larry attempts to let it down himself, aiding it along with his body weight. It’s just the right time for first Matilda and then Cheryl to walk in. Thoroughly disgraced, Larry takes the partially-deflated doll to Uncle Moke, so at least someone stands to benefit from it.
There’s just enough time for a cliffhanger. At Jeff and Susie’s, Clive celebrates with Carol about the play’s rave reviews. When Carol has to leave for work, it occurs to Clive that in all his excitement over her beauty he hasn’t asked what she does for a living. Her revelation that she’s a professional crier leads to a confrontation in the street, and another tussle over that stole. In the commotion, the garment falls into the road, and Carol rushes out to retrieve it — right into oncoming traffic. I look forward to finding out how Curb handwaves this away in the next episode.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.