Documentary Now!’ hits its very specific satirical targets with precision

Fred Armisen and Bill Hader in Documentary Now!.

Three stars

Documentary Now! Thursdays, 10 p.m., IFC.

Created by Saturday Night Live alums Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, Documentary Now! has very specific satirical targets, and it hits them with precision.

A send-up of PBS series like POV, American Experience and Independent Lens, Documentary Now! parodies a different nonfiction filmmaking style in each episode, and its re-creations are remarkably effective, thanks to wonderful work from directors Alex Buono and Rhys Thomas. Armisen and Hader star in each episode, alongside guest players like Jack Black and John Slattery, and their spot-on impressions are funny enough that it doesn’t really matter if the jokes are hit-and-miss.

The three episodes provided for review take on Grey Gardens, Nanook of the North and HBO’s Vice, and for people who are familiar with the source material, Documentary Now! is likely to provide plenty of knowing laughter.

It may be niche humor, but it fills that niche skillfully.

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  • The event’s 12th edition runs April 28 through May 4 at the Palms and Downtown’s Inspire Theater.

  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

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