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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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