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Fantastic Fest 2011: “Clown,” reviewed

Fantastic Fest 2011: “Clown,” reviewed (photo)

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What’s the funniest movie of the year? “Bridesmaids?” “Horrible Bosses?” “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never?” No, the funniest movie of the year so far is a Danish comedy called “Clown.” The only problem with this movie is you can’t see it: it currently has no distribution and its content is so edgy, it might have trouble finding it without some significant cuts. So it’s the funniest movie you won’t see this year. It poses a sort of cinematic philosophical conundrum: if a movie is hysterical, and no one is around to laugh at it, is it really funny?

“Clown” is a big-screen adaptation of a TV series of the same name that I’d never even heard of before it screened at Fantastic Fest. Fortunately, you don’t need to know anything about the series to enjoy “Clown;” all that’s required is a love of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-style observational-slash-confrontational awkwardness and Farrelly Brothers-style gross-out sex humor. Smash those two together and drown them in Underberg bitters and you’ve got “Clown.”

The premise is very “Curb,” with two Danish actors, Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen, playing loosely fictionalized versions of themselves, stand-up comedians with endlessly patient girlfriends. Frank is uptight, Casper is outrageous. The two plan a vacation away from their loved ones they secretly name “Tour De Fisse” — a.k.a. “Tour De Pussy” in English — a canoe trip to the greatest brothel in the world. The only problem is Frank’s girlfriend is newly pregnant, and she’s been giving him flack about hating kids and being unprepared for fatherhood. Determined to prove her wrong (even though she’s absolutely right) he drags a pre-pubescent boy named Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) that his girlfriend’s supposed to be babysitting along for the trip. The Tour De Pussy. You see the problem here.

The film wears its episodic roots on its sleeve: Tour De Pussy becomes a series of epic misadventures along the trio’s trip. The threads that connects it all together are the character dynamics: Casper devilishly egging on Frank, Frank struggling to connect with Bo, Bo trying to figure out what the hell he’s doing on this trip with these two weirdos. All three make wonderful traveling companions, even if their travels don’t always go so wonderfully. The final act of the film manages to pull off a combination of sentimentality and humor so simultaneously sweet and hilarious that it would make Judd Apatow super(bad) jealous. And while the jokes are utterly immature, the film actually offers a surprisingly mature portrait of masculinity in all its wondrous insecurities.

I know what you’re thinking: “Matt, this movie sounds fine, but you haven’t explained what makes it so funny.” That was by design. This sort of outrageous shock comedy works best as a surprise. I can tell you that the film has a sex scene so funny it made me cry, and a riff on the final punchline in “The Hangover” so outrageous it made me scream (and might also be illegal to show in the United States). Both of those moments are the biggest laughs in any movie this year, if only you could see them this year.

“Clown” does not have US distribution, but holy cow it deserves it. If you saw it at Fantastic Fest, or you’re a fan of the original series, tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter..

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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