Reviews for Netflix’ ‘A Man in Full’: Ample empty calories

One reviewer dubs it ‘a toothless satire.’
A Man in Full. Jeff Daniels as Charlie Croker in episode 101 of A Man in Full. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

A Man in Full. Jeff Daniels as Charlie Croker in episode 101 of A Man in Full. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

The reviews are in and Netflix’s “A Man in Full” feels more empty than full.

The six-part limited series starring Jeff Daniels as real estate mogul Charlie Croker on the downfall is based on the 1998 best-selling Tom Wolfe novel of the same name set in Atlanta. David E. Kelley of “Boston Legal” and “Big Little Lies” fame is the creator.

The 742-page book gets trimmed so “subplots are thinned out to the point where they barely seem to matter and most of the relationships between characters lack compelling motive,” writes Chris Vognar of The Wrap. “It’s as if Kelley and his team took a look at the behemoth source material, blinked and got to streamlining.”

Vognar gives the actors props for strong performances, but the two primary stories don’t fit well in the narrative. The secondary story involves Croker’s attorney representing a Black man who punched a cop in reaction to his car being towed and has to spend painful time in the Fulton County jail.

“The pieces feel scattered and mismatched in a series that moves too quickly to tie them together in any resonant way,” Vognar notes. “The series is also drained of much of the racial tension that seethes through the novel, which begins with fears of race riots when a star Black athlete is accused of raping a white heiress. The makers of ‘A Man in Full,’ seem bent on not offending anyone too much, an approach antithetical to Wolfe’s writing.”

Ben Travers of IndieWire, in dismissive tones, dubs it a “toothless satire, sharing little of note about these buffoonish bros and even less about modern society” and gives it a C-minus grade.

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter is even tougher. “‘A Man in Full’ isn’t big enough, smart enough, funny enough or outlandish enough to bother using the Wolfe title or his character names,” he wrote, dubbing it “a small and flat TV series.”

And while Kelley was able to eliminate “the book’s ample cringe factor,” including Wolfe’s clumsy efforts to write urban and hip-hop vernacular, the TV series doesn’t do a good job representing Atlanta’s thriving Black community either, Feinberg said.

Lucy Mangan of The Guardian is an exception, giving the series four out of five stars. “The new series is a solid, satisfying thing but it lacks a true satirical edge and it lacks flair,” she wrote, falling short of HBO’s “Succession.”